Each week of advent (the weeks leading up to Christmas) we'll publish an advent reflection from Tannya Forcone. Tannya shares her reflection during the advent candle lighting on Sunday mornings at Harmony Springs. Tannya is a Anthropology student at the University of Akron, has conducted valuable research on food insecurity in our community, and she has served Harmony Springs as an Elder and worship leader (among many other things).
Despair is easy to find. It is bold and brash, and it is in your face. It is online, in the newspaper, and on TV.
It is at our neighbor’s house in the form of hunger. When the budget doesn’t stretch far enough to include a holiday; when a single mom has to choose Christmas dinner or Christmas gifts. She can have both, but only setting aside her self-esteem. When she signs up holiday for a holiday basket but it makes her feel worthless, like a failure as a mother.
Despair is with the lonely old man whose family is distant both physically and emotionally. When he sits alone evening after evening and shares his holiday with memories and regret.
Despair is with the young teen facing challenges of bullying and peer pressure.
It is with the refugees and those who would help them.
Despair comes to Muslims, and Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and even Disciples.
And so does Hope. But hope is small and quiet and it slides into our lives like a stray cat. It will move on to someone else’s backyard if you don’t encourage it. Slowly and carefully we need to develop a relationship with hope.
Today we light the candle of hope.
It has been difficult these last couple of weeks to find hope, as the great powers of our world deal in fear and violence.
It is easy for hope to become lost in Wal-Mart, overwhelmed by merchandizing and the commoditizing of Christmas. But we have to take it with us, not in a red paper cup, but in our hearts and our actions. We must be the bearers of hope. We do this with caring, loving, praying, doing, and sometimes donating.
Jesus has sent hope to us, it is our job to nurture it and share it. Like the stray cat, if we begin to take care of it, it becomes ours. Eventually, if you let it, hope is welcomed into your home and it curls up on your bed. When Hope moves in, despair fades.