Advent: A Season of Hope
Can’t It Be December 26 Already? Exploring Hope in Hardship
For some of us, the statement “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” couldn’t be further from the truth. With all the decorations and merriment December brings, the day we’re most anxious for is the 26th. Grief, apathy and hardship can make the Christmas season anything from annoying to unbearable. So this year, instead of focusing on Christmas day, concentrate on Advent. Advent isn’t about presents, trees, dinners and decorations. It invites you to a place of quiet and reflection. And it challenges you to both look into and past your circumstances.
“Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate,” writes G.K. Chesterton in an essay discussing virtues.1 The difficulty of this statement is obvious. Desperate circumstances seem to call for despair, not hope.
What are you hoping for, or what did you once hope for before you hardened your heart against believing it could happen? Reunion with an estranged family member? Recovery from an illness? An adequate job? Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if these desires will ever be fulfilled. The hope Advent calls us to contemplate is different. It lies not in an uncertain future event but in a fulfilled past one. While Christmas emphasizes the joy of new birth, Advent offers the whole story – a story that wouldn’t be complete without hardship.
When humankind was in a position that seemed hopeless, God sent a rescuer. Born in humble conditions, Jesus wasn’t familiar with luxury. As an adult, he spent his time with the unlovable. His hometown drove him out. His dear friend died. People in power plotted to kill him, and they eventually succeeded. Even God’s own son wasn’t immune to suffering.
God’s rescuer came as one who could empathize, as one who cared deeply for people – all people. “I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly,” he proclaimed.2 He “came to seek and to save the lost.”3 How does Jesus the rescuer offer hope? “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”4
Later in the essay, Chesterton wrote “Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.” This Advent season, I challenge you to reflect on this statement in light of the story of Jesus Christ.
If you’re looking for a place where your grief, apathy or hardship fit in this joyous season, join us at Lakewood Anglican. We are like you: people with sorrows but also with hope.
Lakewood Anglican Church meets Sunday afternoons at 4:00 at the corner of Madison and Saint Charles. Find us atwww.lakewoodanglican.com. We look forward to celebrating this season of hope with you! 1. Chesterton’s essay “Paganism and Mr. Lowes Dickinson” published in his book Heretics. 2. John 10:10. 3. Luke 19:10. 4. John 3:17
Nicole Shedden on behalf of Lakewood Anglican
Nicole Sheddon leads children's ministry at Lakewood Anglican Church. She lives in Lakewood with her husband and kids.