The Guiding

POWER of HOPE

for

ADVENT 2019

What (or who) nourishes your hope and your imagination? I ask because some have suggested that one of the main ‘problems’ that we face here mid-December, midAdvent 2019 is a lack of imagination.

While ‘visions of sugar plums’ (or a new ______) may dance in the heads of our children as Christmas comes ever closer, what visions occupy your imagination—and where have they come from?

As nourishment for our Advent journey, our family of faith shares the rich visions that come from the imagination (and revelation) of our brother, the prophet Isaiah. And this week we have a helping of his familiar imagining of what the world might look like when God’s plan is finally and fully accomplished.

He invites us to imagine a time when the powerful will no longer prey on the weak, but rather they will exist and flourish in complete peaceful and joyful communion. Imagine that!! (If you can…)

The lion and the lamb, the wolf and the calf…those with an abundance and those who know need?

Imagine a leader, Isaiah promises, who will guide us to this communion and shalom, the one who will free us for the fulfillment of God’s plan and promise.

As we imagine this beautiful vision, what happens to our faith? How does our faith function as our imaginations are opened and nurtured? And what does the power of hope do to our imagining?

If we have a hope, if we hunger and long for the vision (which is God’s dream, eh?) to be birthed on earth, what actions will we undertake? Pondering such questions and inviting us to consider the gift and power of our faith, the reflections below may offer food for your pondering, praying and your imagination?

“Some folks understand faith to be primarily about what God will do for them. They find their virtue in declaring His power up to any challenge. They pray fervently then wait for God to take care of business.

“Other folks understand faith to be about what God can accomplish through them. Such people approach problems that seem prudent to address with confidence that God will aid their endeavors. So far, so good – but only so far.

“Faith offers more than a determination to meet life’s reasonable goals: the prudently winnable battles. The point of faith is to equip us for necessary tasks no matter how impractical they seem. [Imagine that]

“Giving love that will never be returned, striving for justice that holds no promise, pursuing the common project that will never win public funding--that’s the stuff of faith. After all, did you ever see a wolf and lamb napping together? How about a lion contentedly gnawing a bale of hay?

“Faith’s purpose isn’t to make us exemplary citizens, Chamber of Commerce honorees or presidents of the parish council. God places an astounding dream in our hearts. Faith opens our ears to its beckoning and strengthens our hearts to settle for nothing less.”

“By far, the most important part of today’s Isaiah reading is the line, “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of Yahweh as water covers the sea.” “…when the prophet speaks about the earth being filled with the know-ledge of Yahweh, he’s basically sharing his conviction that all of us one day will experience Yahweh’s presence in everything and everyone we encounter.

“God will be as much a part of us as water is a part of the sea. For those who have that God-experience everything will change; even natural enemies will become friends.

“So, we can never forget Jesus’ basic “message.” He’s not going to bring about God’s presence, he’s simply announcing that God is already present.

“Remember his first words of public ministry: “The kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe in the good news!” In other words, “Why are you still waiting for something that’s already here? You simply have to change your value system and you’ll notice God working effectively in your everyday lives!”

Imagine that. And the power of your Hope?

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." (Colossians 3:16)