The Celebration of Hope

The lady on the morning “news”, in her warmest and faux-sincere voice, said it sweetly: “This is the season of hope and joy” — and moved on quickly to tug at the heartstrings with some touching story of the downtrodden redeemed, a perfect production for this “holiday” season.

I don’t really think she understands the things of which she speaks.

I often wonder, when watching the scrupulously secular stars of media utter such banalities: what, exactly, is the basis of your “hope”? Is it the optimism of wishful thinking, the notion that in our oh-so-progressive world, things will simply get better and better, hurtling at light-speed toward an inevitable utopia? Is it the hope of new politics, new icons of power to guide us out of the wilderness of war and hatred with an enlightenment found nowhere else? Or is it simply the Big Lie, repeated ad infinitum until it becomes Truth, designed to deaden terrifying voices of angst and uncertainty which screech like harpies just beneath a consciousness deadened by frenzy, acquisitional obsession, and the myriad addictions which numb our fears and deaden our souls.

Yet it is a season of hope — or more precisely, a season to celebrate a perpetual and profound hope, not the emotional hopiate mainlined by the hopeless, dragged out like some green plastic tree from a dusty closet to adorn a meaningless holiday, no longer called “Christmas.”

So what is this true hope, this enduring and transformational power which we celebrate this season, yet abide in throughout the year?

It is the hope of true harmony, God and Man in right relation, the only source for Peace on Earth.

It is the hope, beyond reason, of forgiveness of the unforgivable, of acceptance of the rejected, of healing of sick and mortally wounded souls.

It is the hope of conquest of the demons which drive us, enslaving us in what masquerades as freedom.

It is the hope of deep joy, not mere shallow happiness.

It is the hope of a purpose beyond self-satisfaction, of a meaning beyond random chance, of direction for the lost and aimless.

It is about God becoming small that Man may become great, in Him.

It is about sacrificial love, the emptying of self, the death of pretense and a life of humble dependence.

It is about a Child who became Man so that men might reclaim the wonder and joy of children.

It is about infinite love, abounding mercy, endless grace, transformational power.

It is about Christ: humble in birth, extraordinary in life, sacrificial in death, glorious in resurrection.

It is about our hope — the only true and certain hope — the hope of those who know, and serve, and rely on Him, and His gentle hands which lift us up, and cherish us, and carry us home.

It is about Christmas, when Light entered the world and changed it forevermore.

That is our hope, and nothing less.

Have a most blessed and Merry Christmas, and may the peace of God rest upon you and yours.

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14 thoughts on “The Celebration of Hope

  1. Ever considered a post or two on elements of the Christian Liturgical Year?

    The context of the Nativity Story as given by the Gospels and Prophets makes hope significant. Count its very tangible negativities. They are numerous and vivid, in principle countless and blinding.

    To include hunting and slaughter of children — indeed proto-genocide. Hardly giving them stockings and presents.

    Estranged from that context hope is sentimentality, which is anti-spiritual, driving away from God.

    The context is emphasized to highlight the improbable importance and important improbability of the Nativity. It should be still.

    Hard on the context, soft on the hope.

    Hope is a very little, frail, helpless, tenuous, even uncertain thing in the context of life and history.

    Rather like a physician facing the taxonomy of disease, a theologian the taxonomy of estrangement, a virus the primordial furnace.

    Hope has not a hope in hell. Is not that the Gospel?

    The literature of culture would be improved by your discourses on significance of elements of the Christian Liturgical Year.

    I do not find such in the archive. Perhaps they are under titles or themes my pedantic mind does not recognize.

    Christmas belongs with Good Friday in recognizing the negativities of life and history that make the Transfiguration and Easter meaningful.

  2. “Rev”–sounds like the outline of a sermon–or a blog post of your own!

    I’m tempted to add something about not minimizing the importance of a child, of children, in the Kingdom of God, but I’ll let it pass….

  3. “small” — do you address Dr. Bob as “Dr”?

    L’amour et la fumee ne peuvent se cacher.

    Heschel liked to stand at the podium and get an impish grin as he asked, rhetorically, ‘And what is the most anti-Semitic book in the world?’ He’d look around to gauge the dramatic effect and then light with a huge smile before announcing, ‘The Hebrew Bible!’ This would bring the house down.

    At Union, but not across the street.

    When the heart is devoid of anger, where is the need for a doctor? In a successful medical practice, the patients are healthy and the doctor is otherwise engaged.

    When the heart is devoid of hatred, where is the need for a lawyer? In a successful legal practice, the clients are neither harming nor being harmed and the lawyer is otherwise engaged.

    When the heart is devoid of lust, where is the need for a priest? In a successful church, the members are out on station, the Sanctuary is enveloped in Primordial Silence and the priest goes to blue collar or other employment.

    The three professions exist in order to eliminate the need for their existence.

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