Advent traditionally started this Sunday. The major themes of Advent are Joy, Hope, Peace and Love. In earlier times it was a six week period of reflection, learning, meditation and prayer as we readied our minds and spirits for the Birth of Jesus. It would be a time of looking back and ahead.
Ancient people like people now were hopeful. They understood that hope is a state of mind. They knew death, pain and sorrow as we do. They often hoped against hope that the crops would not fail, the baby would heal and that their lives would not be too painful. They had a lot of mystery surrounding their lives.
They experienced feelings as we do. They looked for outside forces to assist them which we now classify as "Extrinsic Hope". They looked for gain through their faith. Miracles, magic healing and omens were often intertwined with desire and expectation.The birth of Jesus was a yearly reminder that there is a God who experiences life as we do. Fulfillment came from external things and recognition.
These peoples also understood that there was a hope from within. This we call "Intrinsic Hope". They could trust in God's presence and help with no expectation of gain for being faithful. They lived their lives faithfully and saw death as a part of life. Hope for them was a trust in the Love of God, always present. They saw situations in life as workable. Peace and fulfillment came from within.
Over the next few weeks as we prepare for the Birth of Jesus, we will explore "Hope" and its many dynamics. True hope helps define love and deepens our faith journey. As preparation, I invite you to investigate your hopes and classify them as we always experience both. Do we experience predominately extrinsic hope or does intrinsic hope dominate your mind? What is your area of attachment? Does your hope blind you to greater possibilities? Do you miss alternatives due to your hoped for preset direction? Are you bound and inactive due to your preconceived for hopeful ending?
My we journey in a hopeful way this Advent.