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This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. Advent simply means to expect the arrival of someone or something new and exciting. People even use the word in phrases such as the advent of television.

In the Christian faith, we use it to celebrate both the first coming of Christ as a babe in a manger and a looking forward to his promised second coming. So Christmas is really a two-fold celebration.

There are four Sundays in Advent, as it always begins four Sundays out from Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. So an Advent wreath usually contains five candles, one for each Sunday of Advent and the last to be lit on Christmas Eve. Each Sunday has a designated meaning: 1st: Hope. 2nd. Love 3rd. Joy. 4th. Peace. (Pictured is my homemade Advent wreathe.)

When Protestants first broke away from the Catholic church many denounced celebrating Advent as a way of bucking the church. I am thrilled to see how many Protestant churches are reclaiming Christian roots, such as celebrating Advent, without worrying about denominations.

This week, then, our focus is on hope. This is an excellent exercise for me as I admit that I often find hope fleeting and elusive. One minute I am fully swallowed up in it, and the next, something reminds me of how many people and all of God’s creation are suffering, and hope spews me out like Jonah from the belly’s whale.

Thankfully, hope is not a feeling. It’s akin to love in that way. It is an action. Even when I despair that I cannot feed all the starving children in the world, I can feed, clothe, or help the one God brings across my path today. I can act in hope even when I don’t feel it.

The curious thing is that when I stop focusing on how I feel in any given moment and simply step forward to take helpful action, hope gobbles me back up and I “feel” better, too.

As we consider hope this week, my prayer for us all is that we are keenly aware of what acts of hope are right before our eyes. Inviting me to take hold of hope.

Today’s Proper Chat Zoom is about the hope of healing from Generational Trauma. Join us if you can. If not, know that we meet every Thursday at 11 a.m. CT and now is the time to make your request for what next week’s topic will be.

Love, your sister along the journey,

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