It’s hope Sunday, the first day of Advent. The prophets show us how to hope. They are much more than what we call seers. So, I’ll call them see-ers. They see, declare, and put their skin in the game. The future compels their words and actions. They live now for what-is-not-now. They agonize for the right words to express what they see. They challenge us to reform our ways because they have reformed theirs in light of a new world. They make us uncomfortable.
The prophets show us how to hope.
Long-armed, hope clasps your hand and pulls you to her. You want to stay planted in the present, and that is good for its own reason, but doing so stretches you till you can no longer bear the tension. To go where hope calls, you must move with her. You must leave your present place. It is only when you resist hope that you feel restless. To move with her is to find that place of stillness-in-motion. It is a mystery that someone so fully seated in the future can help you be more fully present.
The prophets show us how to hope.
Hope is measured in proportion to suffering. Hope is greater when we hold out hope in the midst of great suffering than when we suffer little and say we hope. When the poor refuse to give up, it means more than when the rich do so. The prophets are the poorest among us—if not in material possessions, certainly in spirit. They have little to cling to in the present so they stretch out with every fiber of their body to the future.
Hope comes from the future, but there is nothing more ancient than hope. Everything that exists now sprang from hope. Christians believe that long, long ago, before time, God hoped. He created the world because of hope and his hope endures. He never stops hoping. To say he lives is to say he hopes. That is why he infects us with hope. His life touches yours. He wants you to catch hope. That is why he has given us prophets, to show us how to hope, to touch our lives with hope.
God’s ancient hope lives on. He still hopes today because he can see there is a greater time coming, a better time, a time with no sadness or pain, a time when there will be no deceit, no bait-and-switch. We won’t have to be suspicious and untrusting. We won’t have to lock our doors. There will be no division between the haves and have-nots because there will be no have-nots. There will be no fear, no worry. In this world of hope, every word spoken will be true and beautiful and good. Every thought will be generous and kind. There will be no bullies. Every life will be celebrated by every other life. No one will be unwanted.
This is what God sees but the message seems distant from us (like it is coming from the other side of the world or from another world entirely). So, we instinctively know if we are to hear hope's call we must be quiet and still ourselves.
Hear her? She’s whispering.
Follow her voice in good-faith and you will hear her voice becoming stronger, clearer. Keep on. Hope. She’ll strengthen you for the long haul. Her voice now stronger, clearer.
When you finally see her, you’ll meet her outside of time, more beautiful because she has endured the ages, more joyful for her leaping from the present to the future and back again, always leaping.
God himself is our peace because God himself is our hope. The prophets show us this. Join them.