Redemption: Hope Over Hate

What would you say that you center your hope in as we enter the season we call Advent? What is Advent and why should we talk about hope during Advent? Isn't Advent an old word that people do not use much anymore outside of the church? We send out annual invitations for people to come to our worship services during Advent because it means something important to us.

It is an old word, but it is also a long-honored and sacred season within the Church. However, so are Christmas and Easter, but somehow we have been able to continue to incorporate Christmas and Easter, those two old words and old holidays, into our present vocabulary and traditions generation after generation without any problems.

It seems to me that all we need to do to make something important to most people would be to make it a national holiday, encourage businesses to offer deeply discounted shopping days on that holiday, traditional gift giving and festive decor, eating with our families, and connecting sporting events to it. If that happens for a long enough period, I think we can create a tradition that people will follow and businesses will incorporate into their sales projections, no matter how old the name is that we use for our holidays.

Yet, to have genuine hope during Advent it would be hard not to first deal with the problem of injustice and violence in our local communities, in the nation, and globally, and clearly see that we need to have something from God to hope for against the stark realization that all is not well in our minds and spirits as a people.

With acts of violence rising in general and particularly those that have been in response to actual injustice and perceived injustice now so commonplace, we have built up a resistance to being shocked by them and by how deeply unaffected we are becoming and collectively desensitizing during this period.

The dehumanization of one person by another or one group by another is one of the main reasons that these violent responses to those injustices, actual or perceived, are becoming the norm. If this were not the case, most of the people perpetrating the acts of violence, and targeted or random shootings, would not be able to commit those acts, because it would cause too much internal conflict and emotional scarring to do so.

Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy people are usually not able to harm or kill with such ferocity and callousness without first closing off a part of their God given sense of compassion and care for others. It is only by first dehumanizing the people that they target with violence, or the use of deadly force, that people can consistently do such horrific things to each other.

Even with all the injustice and violence that we are dealing with today, in the Bible reading from Luke 21:25-36, Jesus has something to say about the hardships and violence that were being experienced back in his day and what great hardships were to come. I ask that you read the entire chapter of Luke 21 and discover why Jesus was drawing his listener's attention to consider those difficult things and where their hope should lay. Then I ask, where does your hope lay as we worship and celebrate Advent 2021?

Copyright © 2021 First United Methodist Church, Downers Grove. Please report any problems to webmaster@dgfumc.org.