Expectant Hope

by Andrew Stephens-Rennie

Hope. It’s in short supply these days. The demands on our land and on the people who live here. The hurts of the world and those who die here. Hope. It’s in short supply these days.

I don’t know how it is for you. I don’t know if you feel the same way too, if you can hear and taste and smell the hope our eyes cannot hope to see. Hope is not an easy thing. It is not a battle easily won, even as we await the arrival of God’s newborn son.

Advent hope, dear friends, is not a naïve hope. It is not naïve, but it is expectant. Our hope is in the God who made all things, who sustains all things, and who redeems all things. Our hope is not in ourselves, but in God’s power working in and through, and from time to time, in spite of us too.

This is a hope that comes from our deeply rooted faith in the God who was, who is, and who is to come. This is a hope deeply rooted in the life and work of Jesus, son of Mary, whose safe delivery we now await.

Faith, they say, is the essence of things hoped for. Faith is the evidence of things unseen.

Sometimes faith seems no more than an illusory dream.

Brothers and Sisters, welcome to advent. Welcome to a season of expectation and longing and hope.

Welcome to the challenge and the opportunity of waiting faithfully for a messiah yet to be born.

Welcome to the knot-in-your-stomach anticipation of God’s upside down mustard seed kingdom – a kingdom for which we ask, yet can’t hope to imagine.

We welcome you to this time and space, and pray that as you read these words in this place you will take to heart the stories of this season, to live into them with playfulness and wrestle with all your reason.

For unto us a child will be born. Unto us a son will be given.

And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In God we trust. And though the supply is short, it’s in expectation that we hope.

Andrew Stephens-Rennie on FacebookAndrew Stephens-Rennie on Twitter
Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at www.empireremixed.com, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

3 Responses to “Expectant Hope”

  1. Randy Gabrielse

    Thank you for these timely words. Just this morning I was reflecting and praying on how some of us here in the US may have put to much hope in Barack Obama two years ago, and how some of us share your feelings that hope is scarce right now. I thought about Paul’s recommendation of faith, hope and love; and how our politics now seem instead to be so filled with despair, fear and hatred. So I prayed for a return of faith and hope to our politics; I cannot even imagine real love there right now. Then I put the merely political aside and returned to the hope we have in Christ, the hope of which you and Brian speak so eloquently, and prayed “Your will be done.”

    Randy Gabrielse

  2. sequesthered

    Amen. Thanks, A(S-)R.

  3. andrew

    As I wrote this piece, I found myself struggling with the notion of hope. I think that hope – whether as a tool for an electoral campaign, or in our current waiting for advent’s arrival can all too often be conceived as a guarantee. We can feel the hope, because something will change with the election of a new president, the birth of a new child. Something does change. Things have changed, and will continue to change (and perhaps we should believe that “yes, we can”).

    My struggle has been to understand the ways in which I may be called to prepare for hope, to welcome it into our midst, to make space for hope to be born. And I find it a struggle. I pray, and I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for ways in which I might prepare for the arrival of something new – even in the midst of our ongoing struggle.


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