Over the four Sundays of Advent, we light accumulative candles in our churches. These remind us of various things, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christ’s (second) coming in the light of his first coming into the world. Looking back the candles remind us of the patriarchs & matriarchs; the prophets; John the forerunner, or Baptist; and Mary, the mother of Jesus. Looking forward the candles remind us of the Four Last Things: death, judgement, heaven, and hell. Looking around us in the present the candles remind us of hope, peace, joy, and love, and of the call upon us to be a hopeful, peaceable, joyful, and loving people.
These symbolisms entwine more fully than we might at first realise. Death might seem antithetical to Hope, but hope is the conviction that in the end all shall be well, and that entails the knowledge that whatever is not well with the world will not endure for ever but pass from the world as an ever-fading memory. Love and Hell might seem a less obvious pairing than Joy and Heaven, but love comes to us in our hell and harrows its gates. But there is more, much more, to dwell on in the days ahead.
On this first Sunday of Advent, our theme is hope.
What do you hope for?
Where have you lost hope?
What does it look like to be hopeful?
Lord Jesus, renew my hope in you. Amen.
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