Hold on to hope

The first Sunday of Advent | Hope 

How do you hold on to hope when uncertainty looms like a massive highway billboard around every corner? As I reflect and write, Britain has just voted by a hair to leave the European Union. The prime minister of the United Kingdom announced his resignation. The pound sterling instantly plummeted against the dollar and euro.

Racist attacks against Muslims and immigrants increased. This week, folks from our church visited one Muslim family nearby who experienced threats from neighbors.

Earlier this year, terrorist bombings killed 35 and injured more than 300 in the Brussels airport and a metro station. Our family landed in Brussels airport five months earlier along with other EMM Europe workers and stayed in a retreat center just ten minutes down the road. We’d used the metro on our sightseeing day with other EMM colleagues. What if it had been us? What if …? Next week, next month, next year a different uncertainty will loom over us.

Advent is filled with the tension between what is and what should be. Certainly Mary must have thought, “What if …?” Joseph must have hesitated as he helped Mary climb awkwardly onto the donkey. The truth seekers must have bedded down for the night many times, wondering if they were following the right star.

One thing is certain. Advent is a raw, gut-wrenching longing for what is yet to come, in us and through us. A longing for the tension to cease. A longing to hold on to hope, regardless of how fragile it seems.

So we pack our bags and head off to another retreat. We keep living, keep serving, keep loving in a world that is being blown apart by fear, hatred, anxiety, and uncertainty. Because when shepherds peered into the animal trough, uncertain what they’d see, God peered back at them. We, too, pick up the baby and hold on to Hope.

— Carol Wert, EMM worker in Wales


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