Stories of Hope – December 4

12 4

Expectation…is perhaps the supreme Christian function and the most distinctive characteristic of our religion. Historically speaking, that expectation has never ceased to guide the progress of our faith like a torch…We persist in saying that we keep vigil in expectation of the Master. But in reality we should have to admit, if we were sincere, that we no longer expect anything. The flame must be revived at all cost. At all cost we must renew in ourselves the desire and the hope for the great coming. But where are we to look for the source of this rejuvenation? From the perception of a more intimate connection between the victory of Christ and the outcome of the work which our human effort here below is seeking to construct.  -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We vary in our ability to hope. As we look to the future, some of us see a wide world of possibility, while others see so much that might go wrong. Many days, we see both, and our wishes duke it out with our worries in an exhausting see-saw of wonder.

It’s easier to hope when good things have happened to us in the past….when we have a well of hopeful stories upon which to draw. When life has been harder, when there has been great loss, great struggle – hope is harder too.

And yet, whatever we have been through – whether our personal stories are triumphs or tragedies – we are part of an awe-filled story that shapes our future. In baptism, we wash in storied waters, and our stories are added to the majestic yet ordinary tales of Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Jesus and the apostles. Our story is God’s story, and God knows how to write an excellent ending. Because we are a part of God’s story, we have the grounds to hope for things like freedom, healing, transformation, and life, even when it seems impossible.

  1. When have you been surprised by something wonderful? How did that experience affect you?
  2. How do you cultivate hope in the midst of life’s bad news? Are there practices that help?

Let us pray. God of surprises, as we witness the stark realities of this troubled life, plant seeds of hope within us. May we draw on your stories of freedom, healing, transformation, and new life as sources of possibility and promise. Help us to trust that you will be present and active in the future, as you have been through all of history. Teach us to expect the unexpected. Teach us to hope. Amen.

 

All italicized quotes, poems, and prayers come from An Advent Sourcebook (Liturgy Training Publications/Chicago, IL, 1986).

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