Advent Hope

Apologies : I uploaded the wrong video for the section in this post on "Wings of Hope" but I've replaced it with the right one now :-)

A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes … and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”

 -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!” Amen.

-Henri Nouwen

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Click here for my previous post on Advent blues: Light A Candle In The Darkness.

This is a beautiful set of reflections from my friend Robin who blogs at Metanoia titled Praying Advent Through Darkness.   
  • Robin's posts relate to loss and the holiday season and are an Advent blog she kept the first few years after her son Josh died. 
  The video shows an interview with the two of the founders of 'Wings of Hope', an Australian  self-help group for people bereaved by suicide. It shows how an organisation grew from a small beginning into something bigger. 

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Every year we celebrate the holy season of Advent, O God. 
Every year we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise.
Every year we roll up all our needs and yearnings and faithful expectation into one word: “Come!” 

                                            The Divine Dawning, Karl Rahner, S.J.


Advent” does not mean “expectation” as some may think. It is a translation of the Greek word parousia, which means “presence” or, more accurately, “arrival” — that is, the beginning of a presence.  

In antiquity the word was a technical term for the presence of a king or ruler, and also of the god being worshipped, who bestows his parousia upon his devotees for a time.

“Advent,” then, means a presence begun, the presence being that of God. — From “Dogma and Preaching,” by Pope Benedict XVI

At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? 

At this time in my life, what am I leaving?

 Where am I about to enter? 

What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? 

What gift would enable me to do it? 

A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres.

 Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. 

At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope. 

This is one of the reasons such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. 

It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds; to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward. 

The time has come to cross.”  
John O'Donohue – “To Bless the Space Between Us

Cast from afar before the stones were born
And rain had rinsed the darkness for colour,
The words have waited for the hunger in her
To become the silence where they could form.
The day’s last light frames her by the window,
A young woman with distance in her gaze,
She could never imagine the surprise
That is hovering over her life now.
The sentence awakens like a raven,
Fluttering and dark, opening her heart
To nest the voice that first whispered the earth
From dream into wind, stone, sky and ocean.
She offers to mother the shadow’s child;
Her untouched life becoming wild inside.


Poem from Brazilian liberation theologian Rubem Alvez -
What is Hope?
It is a presentiment that imagination is more real and reality less real than it looks.
It is a hunch
that the overwhelming brutality of facts
that oppress and repress is not the last word.
It is a suspicion
that reality is more complex
than realism wants us to believe

and that the frontiers of the possible
are not determined by the limits of the actual
and that in a miraculous and unexpected way
life is preparing the creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection
The two, suffering and hope, live from each other.
Suffering without hope
produces resentment and despair,
hope without suffering
creates illusions, naiveté́, and drunkenness...
Let us plant dates
even though those who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
This is the secret discipline.
It is a refusal to let the creative act
be dissolved in immediate sense experience
and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined love
is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints
the courage to die for the future they envisaged.
They make their own bodies
the seed of their highest hope.
―Rubem A. Alves, Tomorrow’s Child, 1972.

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