“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:2, NRSV)
This Sunday begins the season of Advent. Advent is the season that begins the liturgical calendar that guides us through scripture and tradition through the life of Jesus Christ each Sunday when we gather. The goal is to cover the entirety of Jesus’ life and ministry every year. We are beginning a new Christian year with the first Sunday in Advent.
Throughout Advent, we will imagine our world through the lens of Advent. First, we’ll imagine hope, then peace, then joy, and finish with love. This week our focus is on hope.
The writer of Hebrews describes hope as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It’s not optimism. Optimism is a way of seeing the world. Hope is a way of living in the world. Hope, in the season of Advent, takes on a particular emphasis that highlights what we believe as Christians. In spite of what our eyes tell us about our world, hope lives as if the Kingdom of God has already come.
Living as if the Kingdom of God has already come means that fear is banished, the need for retaliation against wrongs is left behind, generosity replaces the worry that characterizes a spirit of scarcity, and the anxiety that permeates the atmosphere of those who live without hope is a fading mist. I don’t think any of us live this kind of life entirely; indeed, there are times where the circumstances of our lives are overwhelming, and we forget in Whom we have placed our hope. Even living imperfectly as if the Kingdom of God has already come will lead to what we’ll be talking about the next three weeks—peace, joy, and love.
Join us on this Advent journey. Don’t miss a Sunday because each week will be an uplifting experience of being in God’s presence and fellowshipping with others who are trying to live as if the Kingdom of God has already come.
Rev. Dale Cohen
Senior Pastor of Canterbury United Methodist Church