In this first week of Advent, Bishop Hughes asks us: "Consider how you can look for the hope. Look for the hope that is Jesus in your life or Jesus in the world. And not only look for the hope – how can you be the hope? In what ways can you offer the hope to someone else?" (Time: 3:36.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. It is the first week of Advent, which means that it is the start of the church year, and our year starts with four weeks of Advent. Four Sundays of preparing for the coming of Christ, that great celebration that is Christmas.
And these four weeks are not simply about preparing for Christmas, about shopping for presents and looking at recipes and figuring out when we’re going to travel. It’s also a time of our waiting in expectation – and a joyful expectation – that Jesus is going to come for us. And we celebrate that. But it’s not just Jesus coming for us so we can celebrate Christmas – it is that Jesus comes for us every single day of our lives into eternity. Now there is something to look for with hope – that today, no matter how much uncertainty we face; that today no matter how much confusion or frustration or anger or hurt we may have to deal with; that today, no matter what is on our plates – whether it is something full of joy, or full of sorrow, that Jesus is coming to be with us. That he is always here for us, and we wait for that moment.
So I want to ask you to consider this, in this, the first week of Advent. Consider how you can look for the hope. Look for the hope that is Jesus in your life or Jesus in the world. And not only look for the hope – how can you be the hope? In what ways can you offer the hope to someone else? Or hold the hope for someone else?
We have been in a complicated and disruptive and confusing time. And it is managing to continue to be that way – it’s a protracted situation that we’re in with pandemic. And in this time, I think we need hope more than we have ever needed it before. And Jesus gives us that hope – it takes our looking for his presence, it takes our looking for his love, and looking for his light and looking for the way that he is trying to illumine our path.
And it also takes remembering that because he is with us, we do some of those same things for others. That we bring Jesus’ love. That we bring Jesus’ illumination to the path, to a conversation, to a situation – to anything that is going on in us, or around us, or for us, or with us. That in all of it, there is the hope that is Jesus.
So Advent has begun. Preparations for Christmas have begun. Waiting for Jesus continues. And as you do all those things, I encourage you – look for the hope. Look for the hope that is Jesus wherever you go. And, be the hope. Be generous with your hope. Give it to anyone who needs some hope. Hold them in your hearts, hold them in your prayers. We are waiting for Jesus to come. With hope.