Malachi 3:1-4/ Philippans 1:3-11 / Luke 3: 1-6

Being hopeful, which is a gateway to experience God's hopeful presence within us-intrinsic hope does not come naturally to all. This presence of hope is often blocked by life experiences that are painful and discouraging. There have been identified 9 Habits of Hope for Christians which have to be known and intentionally developed. They are important, especially in this era of pressure against hope and development of dark thinking. Four of the nine will be reviewed today and the finial five next Sunday as we need a  foundation of "Hope" in order to be joyful,peaceful and people of love.

The 9 Habits: 1) Being Present; 2) Mindfulness; 3) Avoiding Distraction; 4) Selective Attention; 5) Meditation; 6) Using our Senses; 7) Wonder; 8) becoming Witnesses; & 9) Universal Gazing and Awe.

Being Present: calls us to pay attention and not distracted from the real life that is around us. We are called to see the world as it is now! We often get tricked by TV and commercials and also get locked into our minds about former days or magical beliefs. We need have "full acquaintance" with today.

Mindfulness: a call to notice what is happening in our minds. It is defined: Maintaining a moment by moment awareness of our sensations, feelings, and thoughts without getting caught up in them. See them as bubbles around us which we prick with a feather and return to our meditation on the now. We often get caught in the story-lines that come into our minds. We need to remember that a story line is not the whole truth but only a partial truth.

Distraction Avoidance: Distractions can prevent hope! We use them to avoid unpleasant feelings and realities. This avoidance of sensation and experience costs us the energy to enjoy reality and to act within it. We must be self-disciplined to push distractions aside.

Selective attention: We are bombarded with stimuli. This habit disciplines our focus on the feelings at hand to the exclusion of all others. It is powerful habit. There have been experiments where those who practice this habit can black out induced distractions designed to deflect a person's attention. This is known as "the Invisible Gorilla". Images of gorillas were flashed over a screen and those engrossed by their deep attention, did not see the gorilla. A focus of Jesus to this degree brings us into relationship with the hope of God.