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Advent, Day 2: Hopes & Dreams 28 November 2016

Posted by Dr Moose in Advent, Faith, Life.
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Despite my expectations, today’s post could be a bit on the short side. One of the themes of Advent is Hope, which in itself is a rather slippery word. I had hoped, for example, to write a longer post tonight, but this now seems unlikely. Perhaps it would be fairer to write that I had dreamed of doing so.

Dreams, after all, are rather easier. They either drift unbidden from our subconscious through the realms of night, or sidle in through quiet day-lit moments, full of promise and glitter, but often lacking in substance. They can be wonderful, powerful, erotic, disturbing or aspirational – but often also insubstantial: Imaginings and intentions just beyond our grasp.

Yet so often the word Hope becomes synonymous. I had hoped, once I’d driven through rush hour traffic in Northampton’s dark, to install the 8GB of RAM I’d collected in my ageing but generally reliable 17″-screened Dell laptop.It didn’t happen of course, as being present while my Good Lady Wife did battle with the ironing was a wiser course of action, conveying love by presence. By simply being there.

Hope in the Christian sense, however, is more than a desired state. Rather it is understood as something grounded in evidence. Something that will happen (and no, given the lateness of the hour and gentle befuddlement occasioned by a Monday G&T, I cannot, or will not, attempt to dig out the scriptural and theological basis to the statement, not now). Something backed by validated faith, and that therefore is reliable and assured. Rather than an optimistic statement it’s probably closer to the phenomenon of Life Assurance, that belief that once we’ve shuffled off our mortal coil the company will honour their part of the bargain and dole out to our chosen heirs and successors the money that we’ve entrusted into their care over the years. Except the Christian hope, a facet of the Advent journey, lies in the assertions that we’ll see the payoff ourselves too, not just those we leave behind. Not just the promise of pie in the sky, but said pastry-based comestible validated by something we’ve experienced in the here and now, the steak on the plate while we wait, if you like. (Please insert alliterative, rhyming choices as fit your palette).

I may make light of it, but fundamentally that’s part of the Advent Hope – something bigger and more definite than the dream. After all, dreams are nice enough, but unless converted from the potential into the real, their promises are illusion and vanity. Illusion and vanity might be a nice way to get me through the night, but be of precious little use against “the dying of the light” whether that’s the glimmer of our own mortality, or the fragility of so many of our own worlds. The martyrs of the past and the present didn’t surrender their lives to mere dreams, but to a far bigger and better Hope. The Hope of Glory and the everlasting life in the presence of the Eternal, the Divine. The Advent Hope.

 

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