To all who seek and wonder, come home.
The human journey both individually and collectively is one of constantly wondering, getting off track and finding our way back home. Its easy to get lost, in the noisy confusion of life. We are surrounded by competing energies, tasks, demands, and desires. The normal struggles of tending to ourselves and our loved ones is enough to keep us busy – add to it systems and structures that are stacked against anyone who is identified as “the other” by the dominate society and the task quickly becomes overwhelming.
We are all on the path, the path of awakening, creating and contributing to this thing called life. But if I’m being honest with you, sometimes I think we have wondered far off the path. How do we know when we are off the path?
Anytime we spend more time arguing for our differences at the cost of defending our humanity we have gotten off course.
Thats why I love and embrace the annual spiritual practice of Advent. Advent simply means the journey or adventure of waiting and becoming.
Advent is a ritual and spiritual practice that actually has little to do with the actual birth of Jesus. Rather it reinforces a faith story in those that participate and as such takes on symbolic meaning. It is in this symbolic meaning of the journey that I find real Hope that transformation can come for those who are willing to walk the story in a new way.
The journey begins with Hope.
Now Hope is not a real popular concept in New Thought philosophy, we are Faith based people that affirm our good and speak our word and keep an optimistic mindset – we don’t hope! …. or do we?
I’m guessing that everyone reading this has felt the twinge of hope, longing and desire in their life – even right now. If you get still and quite, I bet there is a small ember of hope deep in your heart, longing to be fanned into a flame.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down…
This is the plea of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 64. How often have we prayed for the same thing? How many times have we longed for God, The Universe, some greater power, to break into this seemingly broken world and set right all the wrongs? How often have we wished for some divine intervention to rescue us from a seemingly hopeless and dark time?
Perhaps you are, or know someone who is, in that struggle right now. Overwhelmed and exhausted by the feeling that you’ve done all that you can. I’m certain that at one time or another we have all prayed that prayer: “Come and make it right God, step in and do something about this mess!”
This is the cry of the hopeless, the cry of the oppressed, downtrodden, forgotten, unseen and unheard. We don’t need to look to ancient stories to know that this cry is present in our own world, our own communities right now.
Yet the ancient stories in the Torah provide an important reminder. That when the cry is heard it initiates a path of restoration, and redemption. While often told in dramatic tales of spiritual heroism – such as Mosses leading his people out of slavery – the path is ultimately one that must unfold through human consciousness. In other words, it develops as we develop. This is the meaning of the phrase “God can only do for us what God can do through us.” the path of redemption, restoration and liberation must unfold through and as us.
Right now there is a deep cry in the human heart that needs to be heard. It is the cry that tells us we have forgotten who we are.
This cry is ancient. Throughout history deep and horrific abuses of human life and dignity have been suffered by some group at the hands of the powerful and greedy. It happens over and over and over, until the moment comes when it is too much to bear any longer and a deep aching cry bellows out. When we hear the cry we ache too – because something within us knows that the painful place we find ourselves is not final – its not where we belong.
The cry is a longing to go home.
And this is now Advent begins, with a listening for the longing within, the cry to go home – to restoration, liberation and wholeness. Can you hear it? the longing that humanity has for something better than where we find ourselves today?
Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of hope- not the prudent gates of optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of common sense; nor the strident gates of self-righteousness, which creek on shrill and angry hinges; nor the cheerful , flimsy garden gates of “everything is going to be all right,” but a very different, sometimes very lonely place, the place of truth telling, about your own soul fir of all and its condition. The place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world, both as it is and as it could be, as it might be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but the joy in the struggle – and we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking them what they see.
And so what is Hope? Hope is resistance to despair when despair seems like a much more logical conclusion. Hope is our protest against the inhumanity of the human race and hope is most necessary precisely when it is most absurd.
Advent then, is an invitation to our consciousness, to open our minds to a new way of seeing. it is not waiting for someone to come an “fix it” – its an invitation to be awakened in apocalyptic times – a time in which all that is no longer working is being uncovered and exposed.
It begins with hope because it is an honest confession of where we are – knowing that our courage to stand here, allows others to hear the call and come. Then we lead those who are willing, through the gates onto the footpath of faith.
Come, come whoever you are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
It doesn’t matter
Ours is not a caravan of despair
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.
Peace be with you –
Rev. Dr. David Alexander