Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hope Comes First

Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37

         Hope. Joy. Peace. Love. The four weeks of Advent. Each a reminder of the life desired of and expected for each of us. In the back of my mind I have wondered why the themes were in their particular order. This past year cancelled any argument I might make for any other order.

2014 has been the year of doubt. Hard doubt. The kind of doubt that either eliminates faith or refines it to its purest form. The questions began forming during Lent and reached a crescendo Easter Sunday. My rage from reading Scripture AND the news made it almost impossible to type my thoughts; something didn’t add up. Either the Church was seeing something in Scripture I could not find or the Bible was a fantasy that not even churches built on it could maintain.

My thoughts centered on two main questions: 1) Was Jesus real and was He the biological Son of God through the immaculate conception, and 2) even if Jesus was not real on either count, does it matter? The remainder of the year focused on coming to answers. My answers, at the moment, are 1) yes/probably not, and 2) no. I will explain more as I come closer to my final thoughts. 2014 is not over. I took a break from regular posting while I wrestled with the questions. Writing and meditation did not stop – only the posting of it.

As Advent approached I was drawn back because it has been my favorite season since I understood the liturgical calendar. My eagerness does not come from its ending at Christmas but in spite of it. The season calls us to examine our faith in light of the four traits. It calls us to live the fulfilled lives God wants for us.

So why do I agree that hope comes first? Hebrews 11:1, my mantra, says, “Faith is the substance (manifestation) of things HOPED for; the evidence of that which we have not seen. All year, despite the persistence of doubt, I hoped Jesus was real. I hoped Jesus was the Son of God. I hoped that fact mattered. It is hope that gets us to the place where we can examine the others. Even when God seems far away – hope maintains a link.

Happy Advent!