Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent for 2007, and Sumner and her family lit the candle of hope at the front of the sanctuary at the start of the worship service. Advent always seems to arrive each year just when I most need the reminder that this is still God's world with a lot of good things going on in spite of the bad news with which we are inundated on a daily basis. Advent arrives when I am in need of hope.
Emily Dickinson wrote something like: Hope is the thing without feathers that perches in the soul and sings the song without words and never stops at all. One of the Biblical writers wrote something like: Without hope the people perish. I know that without God in my life I would have no hope and my soul would shrivel up and die.
This past weekend, I personally participated in a bit of hopeful good news that will never make it onto CNN. My husband and I live in a remarkable neighborhood, where we know each other by name, and know the names of the kids and even the names of the pets. We are in short extended family here, even those like us who have arrived fairly recently. Saturday morning we had a neighborhood workday, which often means picking up the trash thrown along our private road. This time the workday meant yard work at the home of a recently widowed elderly neighbor with Alzheimer's.
For two hours, Scott with his gas powered hedge trimmer, and others with their clippers trimmed hedges and shrubs that had grown ragged and were trying to eat the mailbox, while others like me picked up the trimmings and stacked them for the next trash pickup. When one of the workers went to tell the woman we were finished, her response was "God bless you." What a blessing to be able to do yard work for someone who cannot. Then we gathered for a cookie swap and hot chocolate.
My heart was warmed by the experience of working with a group of neighbors who I know for a fact disagree with each other about many issues, especially in politics and theology. But we all agreed that our neighbor needed help. What a blessing to be able to play a small part in providing that help and to know others felt the same.
Each year I wait for that moment in Advent when God's kingdom breaks through the gloom once again to shine in my heart. This year I was blessed to experience that moment early, when neighbors came together with shared purpose. And the "thing without feathers" perched in my soul once again sang "the song without words." Thanks be to God that will be enough to see me through the new year until Advent once again arrives to remind me of God's eternal hope.
Grace and Peace,