by Christopher Harbin

Awake in Hope
Christopher B. Harbin
Isaiah 64:1-9; Ps 80:1-7, 17-19; Mark 13:24-37; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

What would we do with God in our midst? What do we do with God? Advent is a season of waiting and preparation. It is a time to anticipate God's coming into our lives. We look back on Jesus' birth, but we also look forward to Jesus' return in glory and for each one of us. Perhaps our Christmas reflections actually distract us from the meaning of Advent and God's coming among us. We think of a newborn baby, forgetting that it is Almighty God who is come. If we look beyond our idyllic manger scene, how would we respond to God's fullness come into our lives? Would we live in awakened hope?

There were terror attacks in Mumbai this week, as some struggled against others in conflict with their own aims. People were killed, families destroyed, and millions set on edge. Is there hope amid chaos like this? In southern Brazil, slow, steady rains over the course of weeks have drenched Santa Catarina. Rivers rose, while water-logged forested slopes slid from their foundations. They drug homes and vegetation with them-something akin to the flood of '69 here in Lowesville, VA. Rich and poor were unprepared for the onslaught of something so necessary as slow, steady rain. Where is hope amid this kind of chaos? Are we prepared for hope, even the hope we claim as our own?

Hope does not mean much when we are comfortable, satisfied, safe, warm, and fed. In fact, we are often likely to feel there is no need for hope. Hope was, after all, made for times of disaster and difficulty. When we are too comfortable, we are more likely to fall to sleep than to hope. Comfort dulls our senses. It may push us to ignore the warning signs that the soil of our lives has become too water-logged to hold on any longer to the mountain slopes of life.

Isaiah longed for God's presence to shake up a faithless nation. Israel was too far asleep and living as though ignorant of their responsi ...

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