Advent is, of course, a season of hopeful expectation, pressing on toward the promise. It could very well be said that all of life is about hopeful expectation, pressing on toward the promise despite the long, hard journey we face. Indeed, throughout the biblical narrative and the church’s history, we encounter faithful people hanging on to hope, sometimes by a slender thread, clinging to a promise far removed from their harsh reality.
Some caught a glimpse of something glorious as they struggled on. As Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed before he was slain, “I have seen the promised land.” Like Moses before him and far too many others through the ages, Dr. King did not witness the full realization of that promise. But he caught a glimpse, and in his life, he shared a dream of justice and equality and opportunity for God’s children…for ALL God’s children. He held fast to hope, refusing to waver, and he
urged others to do the same.
At times, it is difficult to still see the promise through the fog that envelops us, the storm that bears down on us. Life can be so very hard and the forces of darkness so overpowering that we might understandably be tempted to give up, to let go of the hope, to let go of the dream. Yet, as the psalmist notes, even in “the valley of the shadow of death,” we are not alone; the Shepherd is with us. We make our song, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” precisely because
we dare to believe in Emmanuel, God with us. And if God is indeed with us, God is with ALL of us. The promise endures. The hope—the dream—remains sure…despite the fog and storm, despite the darkness.
As a prophet and bridge-builder in South Africa both during the wicked time of apartheid and in the years since, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, “Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value.” Through our small and seemingly insignificant acts of kindness and care each day, we commit ourselves once more to the promise. By speaking up and standing up for those who are being silenced and pressed down, we proclaim that we refuse to waver in our hope of the promise.
The promise of a world that is Beloved Community is real and true, and we are its ambassadors, heralds of the Way of Love, for God’s sake and for the sake of ALL God’s children.