Hope Helps Me Hang On…

“Every day I put hope on the line.”

(attributed to Eugene Peterson)

     In Monday’s post, the first of Advent season, we recalled the hope of the nation of Israel. For hundreds of years, prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah.

     The Jewish nation hoped and waited for a savior for a very long time. More than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, foretold the Messiah’s birth,

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

     “Some scholars believe there are more than 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. These prophecies are specific enough that the mathematical probability of Jesus fulfilling even a handful of them, let alone all of them, is staggeringly improbable—if not impossible.[1]

     The ancient Christmas hymn, O Come O Come Emmanuel summarizes beautifully the hope of many:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

     While the Jewish nation stumbled through many dark seasons, hope concerning the coming Messiah helped many hang on to their faith. Others lost or discounted the power of hope. They ignored the prophets’ words. Instead, they chose to listen to voices that led them into even deeper darkness.

     Hope is huge! Hope helps you and me hold on during dark days, or even long, dismal, seemingly hopeless seasons.

May hope be kindled in your heart this holy season of Advent…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html

Advent – Week One HOPE

As I enter through the gates of thanksgiving into the kingdom of Advent, reign in love on the throne of my heart… Amen

(Centering Prayers, Peter Traben Haas)

     Thanksgiving arrived late on the 2019 calendar. At our house, the Christmas tree was up and much of the house was already decorated on Thanksgiving Day. Because some family members will not be with us for Christmas, following dessert, we transitioned from Thanksgiving into a mini-Christmas celebration.

Back row: left to right: younger daughter, Sarah, her hubby, Brandon; son-in-law Jon and older daughter, Angie; my mom, Kathryn; second granddaughter, Mackenzie and boyfriend, Gavin; Sue, Ron. Front row: left to right: younger grandson, Reeve, youngest granddaughter, Emmi; Merci, our pooch, and Freddie, Angie & Jon’s dog, all decked out in their Christmas outfits. Missing: oldest granddaughter, Sydney and her boyfriend, Bryan, and older grandson, Jackson. Love, love, love, my people!!

     If you know me well, you know I love everything Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the scents of the season fill me with excitement—and, I admit, sometimes, exhaustion.

     In my non-liturgical faith tradition, little emphasis was placed on Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. A couple years ago, I downloaded an Advent devotional, which I read daily until December 25th.

     I loved this newfound dimension of Christmas and determined I’d delve more deeply into the sacred meaning of the holy season. Last year I created an Advent wreath for our home as well as blogged about each week’s Advent theme.

     During December 2019, I will be reprinting many of those posts in the Listening on the Journey… blog. Each week, the focus will be on a traditional theme of Advent:

     There are variations of the order in which each week is symbolized. This order may differ from the one you’re using. The weekly designations I’ll use are:

     Week One, symbolizing HOPE;

     Week Two, symbolizing PEACE;

     Week Three, symbolizing JOY;

     Week Four, symbolizing LOVE.

     On Christmas Eve, our two youngest grandkids will light a fifth, taller candle, symbolic of Jesus, the true reason for this lovely season.

     This first week of Advent reminds us of the long-hoped-for Messiah, the arrival of Emmanuel (also spelled Immanuel), through the mystery of the incarnation.

Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus. Strip away the season’s hustle and bustle, the trees, the cookies, the extra pounds, and what remains is a humble birth story and a simultaneously stunning reality — the incarnation of the eternal Son of God.

This incarnation, God himself becoming human, is a glorious fact that is too often neglected, or forgotten, amidst all the gifts, get-togethers, pageants, and presents…[1]

     In Thursday’s post, I will focus further on the importance of the hope of Emmanuel. Until then,

Blessings as you ponder the mystery of the incarnation and the hope of Christmas…

Sue Reeve

  1. Joseph Scheumann, www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-truths-about-the-incarnation

Thanksgiving Blessings…

     We were driving a back road somewhere between Massachusetts and New York, when I saw this beautiful little church. “Oh, Ron! You’ve got to get a picture!” There are certain scenes my husband knows I love. Churches, whether majestic cathedrals or small chapels tucked away in the woods, are right up there alongside interesting doors, pathways and empty benches.

     Today is Thanksgiving. I’m sure by the time today’s post arrives on Facebook or in your email inbox, I’ll be busy prepping for dinner.

     Recently, in my spiritual direction exercises, I’ve focused on the five senses with which God blesses us. Thanksgiving, I thought, is one of those days when every sense awakens.

     We see the faces of those we love or are keenly aware of faces from bygone Thanksgivings we wish we could see or realize we may never see this side of Heaven.

Thank you, God, for the sense of sight!

     We hear a cacophony of sounds—lively conversations, laughter, clanging pots and pans, and of course, football announcers droning in the background.

Thank you, God, for the sense of hearing!

     Warm hugs incorporate the sense of touch as does the practice we have at our house of holding hands during the pre-meal prayer.

Thank you, God, for the sense of touch!

     Thanksgiving must be the best day of the year for our sense of taste! Savory stuffing and gravy; creamy mashed potatoes; tart/sweet cranberry sauce; spicy pumpkin pie topped with sweetened whipped cream.

Thank you, God, for the sense of taste!

     Finally, the smells of Thanksgiving. Roasting turkey; pungent herbs and spices; autumn-scented candles. The sense of smell is linked to memory more than any other sense. Scents of this family holiday resurrect memories of Thanksgivings long ago. For some those memories bring pleasure. For others, the recollections are unpleasant.

Thank you, God, for the sense of smell!

     The following photos from our recent vacation are from Plymouth Rock where the pilgrims landed in 1620. Even though Plymouth Rock is a tourist destination with a bit of glitz, Ron and I enjoyed our time spent strolling through the quaint New England town, reflecting upon our nation’s heritage of faith.

     Plymouth Rock is in fact a relatively small stone. It is on display in this columnar monument, guarded by a nice park ranger who answered cheerfully every child’s question.

     Many of the Pilgrims died while traveling to their new home and many more didn’t survive that first brutal year. What a debt of gratitude I feel this Thanksgiving Day for these brave men and women who left homes and loved ones they knew in search of religious freedom. It reminds me of a saying I believe the Spirit implanted in my thoughts a while back: “God Always Calls Us to Good; God Never Calls Us to Easy.”

     Myles Standish Monument is located a few miles from Plymouth Rock. Ron climbed to the top while I made it only about a quarter way up. Looking down from the circular stairway was too scary for this granny!

Myles Standish (c. 1584 – October 3, 1656) was an English military officer hired by the Pilgrims as military adviser for Plymouth Colony. (taken from Wikipedia)

May your day be blessed. I am thankful for you on not only Thanksgiving Day but all year long…

Sue Reeve