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  • Writer's pictureHilltop UMC

Hoper of Hopes

Updated: Dec 12, 2018

By Hannah Sweet

On this the first week of Advent we light the first candle. We think on the words of the Old Testament Prophets. We sing songs of hope. We truly settle into the speed and fanfare of the holiday. We engage in traditions both new and old, and everyone’s traditions are similar and different all at once. For instance, one of my traditions is to watch every Doctor Who Christmas special. At times silly, nonsensical and 100% nonhuman, The Doctor, is, in my opinion, a great depiction of what it truly is to be human at Christmas, all the days of our lives. The Doctor though a fictional character speaking scripted lines, still speaks truths that we shouldn’t have to be reminded of. One of those scripted lines that I am constantly reminded of this time of year is this:

“My experience has been that there is, surprisingly, always hope.”

At Advent time, it is easy to absorb that first week feeling of hope and hang onto it the remaining three weeks of Advent; but what about the remaining 48 weeks of the year? If any of you really know me you know that my life of late has been one full of challenges that could have easily killed my hope. Between the passing of my son, and breaking one foot and then the other, my life has had more than enough negativity to kill my hope. It is enough to plunge anyone into the depths, but like The Doctor, I am and always will be an optimist; a hoper of far flung hopes; the dreamer of improbable dreams. Now I am not a 900 year old alien, at least not that I know of, but I am something so much greater, I am a follower of Christ. I am armed with something greater than a sonic screwdriver; I am armed with the word of God. God is the hope that fills the cracks of doubt in my life. Anyone can be hopeful on a nice day; a true gift of God is the ability to find hope even in the darkness.

When thinking on the words to write for this, I kept turning back to Psalm 130, or De profundis as it is more commonly known. De profundis which means “out of the depths” is the literal gift of hope for the coming of the Christ, the appreciation for the forgiveness of God. It has inspired the works of poets and composers alike, from Wilde to Bach. The song of pilgrimage has spread its message of hopefulness to many. It is a Psalm used in other religions for their holy celebrations and it is the Psalm that answered the humble prayer of this writer. The words of Psalm 130 were the answer to this prayer:

O Lord, please help me find the words to inspire not just an Advent of hope, but 365 days of hope. Lord help me climb out from under the negativity that has tried to smother my flame of hope throughout the year. Tell me, O Lord, the key to yearlong hopefulness.

It was after this prayer the Lord sent me this Psalm. It was not a Psalm I knew off hand, but since reading its melodic phrasing and pondering its meaning beyond the surface it is one I will turn too again and again.

I cry out to you from the depths, Lord— 2 my Lord, listen to my voice! Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy! 3 If you kept track of sins, Lord— my Lord, who would stand a chance? 4 But forgiveness is with you— that’s why you are honored.

5 I hope, Lord. My whole being hopes, and I wait for God’s promise. 6 My whole being waits for my Lord— more than the night watch waits for morning; yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!

7 Israel, wait for the Lord! Because faithful love is with the Lord; because great redemption is with our God! 8 He is the one who will redeem Israel from all its sin.

So this Advent I encourage you all to take a page from Doctor Who and like the writer of Psalm 130 be a hoper of hopes, because there is always something to have hope in. During my year of tribulations I never let go of my optimism, of my hope. When I lost my son, I did grieve, I am still grieving, but I am hopeful for the future, for a chance to still become a mother. When I broke my leg the first time, and the second, I remained positive and hopeful of the future. It is not just my life that triggers my negative thoughts; it is the world around me. It is the current political circus; it is our increasing obsession with celebrity gossip, and that “I have to have it right now attitude” that constantly try to fill my heart and mind with negativity; however, I cannot think of a single thing that has ever happened in my entire life where I lost my will to hope for a better tomorrow. I encourage you all to not lose yours, and the world will try to kill it with everything it has. I figure God must give us extra hope this time of year so that we can hold on to it all year long; so open your hearts and minds to the message of hope this first Sunday of Advent brings, but don’t forget that miraculous hope that fills your entire being during the holiday season.

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