Waiting in expectation of hope
By Tim Evans - 6 December 2018
We are in the season of advent, a season of waiting and expectation. In our consumer driven society, advent feels like a really busy time, full of Christmas work do's, children writing their Santa lists and, of course, the dreaded Christmas shopping accompanied by Christmas songs in every shop you enter! This isn't a bah humbug post - much of that is good stuff, but it can distract us from taking the time to reflect on what we are waiting in expectation and hope for.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, expresses something of the longing, expectation and waiting of the Jewish community living in a small outpost of the Roman Empire:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favour on his humble servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed,
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.
Her waiting was for the one who was to bring a new world order, a reversal of a world in which the powerful, the violent and the rich seemed to win out. In the ancient world, the gods were often seen to be on the side of those for whom society seemed to work. Israel's God, on the other hand, was one who talked about all people being made in the image of their creator, with inherent dignity and value: it is in this God that Mary places her hope and trust.
In our world today, it is easy to think that it is the rich, powerful and violent who seem to get their way. But in the prayer of this Jewish woman, we can open our eyes to another world that is both coming and - when we look hard for it - already here. In my church, we talk about celebrating the signs of the kingdom we see in our community, whenever we encounter compassion, generosity, trust, friendship and hope. In Worth Unlimited, we believe in that inherent dignity, value and giftedness of all human beings, and that God has a special burden for those who do not yet believe that for themselves.
As we wait this advent, in expectation of the gift that revolutionised the world, the gift that gave hope to those who felt there was none, let's stand in solidarity with young people and communities who do not yet believe in their value, dignity and giftedness and help connect them to the God who does.
PS - If you'd like to give to our work, to help make this hope real in people's lives, we would love to partner with you. Just click on the link above.
(Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels)