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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

268 Dec 8th. 2020: Hope helps us navigate the hardships the darkness and the painful

Day 267 Dec 8th, 2020: Hope helps us navigate the hardships the darkness and the painful

In our faith tradition, Advent celebrates a dream, a vision, a conviction of what God is up to in this world, what God is birthing in creation, what the world can become.

Advent also acknowledges darkness, an obscuring of that dream, and holds the tension between what’s been revealed in the life of Christ, the life of love and the capacity of the world and each one of us to live distracted, to live destructively.

In the name of our better angels, we proclaim hope. Hope is the dogged insistence that the world can be good, can be holy.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, “Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love. He

goes on to state his conviction that the greatest of the three is love, and I would concur

with his observation. But I would also want to say that faith, hope and love are really

not neatly separate experiences.

  • Faith informs hope,

  • Hope informs faith,

  • Love informs hope.

(Faith, Hope, Love)

There’s a LOT of overlap, and in this season of Advent with its focus on hope, we recognize that it constantly blurs into faith and love. One of the gifts of being a part of a faith community— a community that believes in the Divine, that believes that there is purpose and truth etched into the DNA of the universe — is that such a faith community is constantly navigating the question about how to live well, how to live faithfully: questions that necessarily prompt us to go deep. We get a limited time on this planet and our choices matter.

The Gospels portray a Jesus who is very clear that, yes, our choices do matter; they echo

into eternity. Our lives matter. Our commitments matter. And to steer and

inspire our choices, Jesus paints a picture; he calls it the Reign of God, which is a reign of

love, forgiveness, mercy, justice, community, generosity and, I’ll say it again, love.

In other words, what Jesus is saying is that if we want our lives to matter, choose the Reign of God, the reign of love, a life of love. If we want our lives to matter—to matter to our neighbors, our children, our grandchildren, to the stranger, to the supposed enemy, to the poor and to matter to our own heart, choose the Reign of Love.

Hope, then, is this vision we live for. Hope is our conviction about the true essence of this world, informed by the very presences of the holy in all things.

Hope is informed by love – what I seek is a world made new by love. Hope instills in me the determination that, even when love is defiled or obstructed in this world, in the name of hope I choose love.

You see, hope is not the same thing as optimism. Optimism looks around, looks at how

things are going, and says, “It looks to me like things are going to go well.” Hope also

looks around, but looks much deeper, and is able to discern that regardless of “how

things are going,” there is still and always will be only one thing worth living for, and

that is love and a thousand mutations of love: mercy, patience, humility, tenderness,

care of the vulnerable, justice and community.

Hope helps us in tough times. Unlike optimism, which is not durable, hope helps us

navigate the hardships, the darkness and the painful. Hope steers our steps and our

responses to both good times and bad by insisting that this world is bent in the direction

of love and justice. The winds of injustice and oppression may swirl around me, the

disappointment of mercilessness may seem to be overwhelming the world, difficult times

may be coming my way, but I still know what to live for.

That is hope. That is our call.

That is, in fact, what we were made for.

Jack Jezreel, JustFaith



You tell me we don’t have a choice

But to be who we are

And to live the way we do.

I believe that we always have a choice.

If a conflict comes between us,

I won’t choose bitterness and hate.

I choose to still love you without expectation:

To hold you in my thoughts with kindness and forgiveness,

And wish you to be well and happy.

If I see you suffering and filled with worry,

I won’t choose frustration and anxiety.

I choose to have compassion for you:

To open my heart to you,

And draw you into my safety and calmness.

If you become fortunate and successful,

I won’t choose jealously and selfishness.

I choose to be happy for you:

To share whatever I have with you,

So you can become even more fortunate and successful.

And if after all this and nothing eases your unhappiness,

I won’t choose anger or indifference.

I choose peace and equanimity:

To give you the freedom to walk your own path,

While I walk beside you until you’re ready to take my hand again.

There is a practice in Buddhism where we develop the Four Immeasurable Minds: our unconditional love, great compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. This poem is to honour these transformative qualities that have the potential to not only open our own hearts and that of others, but it nurtures the beautiful space between you and I.

- Tina Ng


GRATEFUL: A Love Song to the World | daniel nahmod

Mama Cass Elliot - New World Coming 1970


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