It is the first week of Advent and the theme for the week is hope. In coming weeks the theme will change to peace, joy and love. Of the four, I think hope may be the most important. No one wants to live a life without peace, joy or love but I’m convinced that no one can live life without hope. It is that important. In his classic work, Theology of Hope, Jurgen Moltmann wrote, “Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: ‘Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.’” Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed this sentiment when he said, “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.”
The Bible has much to say about hope. From beginning to end the Scriptures call for us to hold on to hope. Even when we find ourselves in what appear to be hopeless situations we are challenged to maintain hope. Why? Because with God in the picture there is always cause for hope. Always!
The story of Noah and the great Flood concludes with God making a covenant with Noah and the rest of Creation. Genesis 9:13 says “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Ever since God did this rainbows have been associated with hope. I cannot see a rainbow without remembering the Genesis story and also its message of hope. But even on the days that we don’t see rainbows we still have the assurance of God’s presence and love. That’s what Advent and Christmas are all about. And because we have this assurance, we are never without hope.
I will close today with some words that have come to mean a lot to me. I’m not sure who wrote the following words but I keep them taped to my computer at work: “Whatever you do, hold on to hope! The tiniest thread will twist into an unbreakable cord. Let hope anchor you in the possibility that this is not the end of your story, that change will bring you to peaceful shores.” Whether things are going well for you right now or they seem to be falling apart, I encourage you to hold on to hope, hold on to God.
(I took the top image at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, the middle image at Yellowstone National park, and the bottom one near Devils Tower National Monument.