A Shining Hope in Darkness

"The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: "The LORD is our righteousness."

-Jeremiah 33:14-16

Photo by Eyasu Etsub on Unsplash

The people of Israel and Judah had been conquered. Jeremiah, often referred to as the weeping prophet, was devastated over Jerusalem's fall, over the temple's destruction. The darkness was gathering around, their enemies were overpowering, and the strong tree of the dynasty of David was no more.

All that was left was a small, dead, drying, stump.

Many of us may find ourselves in such a place, and it's a comforting reminder that Advent, the season that prepares us for the brilliant and sparkling lights of Christmas, starts in darkness. It starts in the pits of despair. Advent starts where all hope fails.

Advent begins where the large, tall, strong tree of our hopes and dreams lies dead on the ground, and all that remains is a dead, drying stump.

Advent starts there, but it does so with a reminder of hope. "A righteous branch will spring up for David." A just, holy, and righteous branch will spring up out of our hopelessness, out of our despair, out of our pain.

Maybe this advent season doesn't find us in a place of joy. Maybe it finds us in a place of despair and hopelessness. Maybe you've lost a job; gotten terribly sick; lost a loved one to COVID, or cancer, or heart disease. Maybe the floods came and took away all you ever owned. Maybe you remain in pain, struggling to pay bills or make ends meet, in spite of all of your best efforts to rise up and to move forward.

The joy of Christmas seems distant. Seems out of reach.

The first week of advent reminds us that this is ok. Darkness is part of life, and nothing is wrong with us when we experience it.

Advent also reminds us that hope is always on the horizon; that justice, peace, forgiveness, and love are on the way. And it invites people of faith to rise up, to take hold, and to live in the just and equitable future that God has promised us.

So in this first week of advent: in darkness, may a light shine and bring you hope.

-Rev.Dr. Blake Hart

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