Advent 4: The Hope That Lives

By Jan Richardson

Image: Magnificat © Jan Richardson

Lectionary readings for Advent 4, Year B:
Luke 1.26-38; Luke 1.46b-55 or Psalm 89.1-4; 19-26
2 Samuel 7.1-11, 16; Romans 16.25-27

What must it have been like to walk a way she could hardly perceive,
while carrying within herself—in her heart and womb and bones—
a light unlike any the world had ever seen?

—from Advent 4: Gabriel and Mary
The Advent Door, December 2014

Revisiting the passages from Luke that appear in the readings for Advent 4, I have been struck all over again by how much the Christmas story hinges on hope. In this week’s readings, we see that hope in spades.

The hope that propels an angel to visit a young woman and offer her an outlandish invitation.

The hope that enables Mary to respond to the angel with an audacious yes.

The hope that inspires her to sing of the restoration of the world as if it has already happened.

The hope that comes to us as legacy, as gift, as blessing, as invitation.

As I have gathered up these reflections from the past decade at The Advent Door, I have been inspired and challenged once again by the hope that weaves through this week’s readings and throughout the Christmas story. The hope that lives in Gabriel, in Mary, and in every person we meet in the scriptures of this season: this hope is not about wishful thinking for a good result in a future time far removed from our present circumstances. Instead, hope is what comes to meet us here and now, in even the most painful present. Hope makes it possible for us to see the presence of God when it seems most difficult, to say yes to God when it seems most impossible, to sing when it seems most absurd, to dream of—and work for—a world restored when it seems most hopeless.

As we move through this final week of Advent, may this hope come to meet us, to live in us, to shine through us. Blessings to you!

Luke 1.26-38

Advent 4: Gabriel and Mary
Advent 4: An Awful and Wondrous Yes
Home for the Holidays
Door 20: Getting the Message

Luke 1.46b-55

Advent 3: The Art of Blessing
Door 11: In Which We Get to Sing
Door 14: Remembering Forward

P.S. Don’t miss Gary’s wondrous song “Gabriel and Mary,” which you’ll find in the reflection at Advent 4: Gabriel and Mary.

BLESSING FOR THE LONGEST NIGHT: A few years ago, I created a blessing for the Winter Solstice. I’ve loved hearing from folks who use it in their Longest Night/Blue Christmas services. To visit this blessing, click this image or the title below:

Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night

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Using Jan’s words
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2 Responses to “Advent 4: The Hope That Lives”

  1. Pamela Glasser Says:

    Thank you for remembering and sharing what is right and wonderful about this time of year !

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