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Hope is not a weak sentiment, like a childish wish. Hope is an active way of living in the world.
I know a couple who have been struggling to conceive for over two years. You would think after multiple failed IVF attempts and numerous miscarriages, they would be without hope. You would think they would face the possibility that they can’t have their own biological children. Yet to my utter amazement, this couple has never let go of a deep and abiding hope that they will have their own biological children.
This first week of Advent, I’ve been wondering if they are foolish or brave. I’ve been wondering if I understand the true meaning of hope.
@Grace, on the first Sunday of Advent, we lit the purple candle of hope and read the story of Mary’s courageous “yes” to God’s daring plan. While preparing to preach on that passage, I came to view Mary as the embodiment of hope. Mary was not just a bold teenage girl facing a dangerous future, but also a woman of audacious hope. Mary, perhaps foolishly, perhaps naively, believed it possible that God’s love could be born into a broken world. She lived with this hope tucked away in her heart as a Jewish girl raised in an occupied land. She nurtured this secret hope as a young girl listening to her community’s stories of a promised messiah who would change everything. This sacred hope propelled her to say yes to God’s plan that she, a virgin, a poor teenage girl, would bear God’s very being into the world.
Was Mary foolish like the childless couple I know? Perhaps some would say so. But I disagree. Instead, I think Mary was courageously and actively hopeful.
Hope is not a weak sentiment, like a childish wish. Hope is an active way of living in the world. Georges Bernanos, a French author, said it most succinctly when he wrote that “hope is a risk that must be run.” Perhaps hope is foolish or even naïve, but I would rather risk audacious hope than shuffle cynically through a suffering world.
I have come this past week to deeply admire the couple I know for living day after day, week after week, with active hope in their hearts. Their courage is comparable to Mary’s yes. This Advent, risk audacious hope, and see how your life—and the life of those you love—changes.
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.