Yesterday I officiated at a memorial service for a parishioner who died after a three year long battle with ovarian cancer. We gathered at the church and remembered her life, and then we gathered at the reception and shared our stories about what she meant to us. One of the things I was left reflecting on was how much hope she had, even at the end of her life, and even as she knew that she didn’t have much time left. Not hope that she would be cured. Not hope that she would have ten more years. But hope in the truest sense of the word; hope that trusted in God’s love, even when facing the great mystery of what it means to die.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. For centuries Christians have observed Advent as a way to prepare themselves for Christmas, and for the coming of Christ. Each Sunday in Advent has traditionally been given a theme. The second is peace. The third is joy. The fourth is love. But today, the first, is hope. Today we reflect on what it means to look forward to Christ’s birth, and what it means to live into that hope. We also begin to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ into our lives, and into the world. And hope is a good place for our journey to start.