Hope {Advent, Week 1}

I have decided to discontinue Fireside Fridays just for this month, and instead use Friday for Advent-themed posts. I love Advent because it forces me to slow down in the midst of Christmas chaos and remember the holiness of what we are celebrating. Isn’t that what this season is all about—holiness coming down in the very midst of chaos and mundanity? 

I’ve seen conflicting versions about what each week of Advent means, but one prominent theme for this first week is hope. I find that very fitting, because the beginning of every story is a struggle tinged with the hope of the happy ending. This snippet below is all about hope, the hope that has endured through millenia and still holds true today. 

~

girl-watching-stars

{Israel, c. 6 B.C.}

We all know the story. We have been told it since before we could even understand. Once upon a time, it was perfect, and then we ruined it. We disobeyed, we ate the fruit, and something in the world changed irrevocably—or did it?

Something changed, that is clear. I sit on the flat rooftop staring at the stars. Down below, Simeon is crying again, and Mother is coughing, and all our tension and pain that is really so small compared to others’ wraps tight around my heart like fetters. This is not perfection, I know that.

But did it change irrevocably? I whisper the question at the stars, and they do not answer. They just flame on and on and on.

I wonder what stories they have seen. I like to think that the ones above me can remember the beginning, the perfection, and I wonder if they too are scarred by the ruin we wrought. Father says yes, says that all creation was cursed.

But I don’t like to dwell on such things. Instead I imagine all the lives the stars have witnessed, lives strung out like a pattern that will predict either doom or hope.

Perhaps the stars saw Adam and Eve, discovering pain and thorns and separation and ugliness and this horrible thing called death where we’re torn apart in a way we were never meant to be.

Perhaps in the midst of all that, the stars also saw Adam and Eve cling to the promise given to them right after the curse and hear the Voice that whispered, I know you think all is lost. I know you think hope is gone forever. I know you think you have ruined everything. But I want you to know, right now, at the very moment of this great destruction, that this is not the end. Despite all that you have just done, despite all that you will do, there is hope. 

Simeon’s cries have quieted, and I know Mother is holding him in the doorway. They too are staring at the stars.

Perhaps the stars saw the Israelites in the desert, a people worn from years of slavery and scars, a people desperate for a home that seemed an impossible dream, a people now killed left and right by snakes their own ingratitude had summoned.

Perhaps in the midst of all that, the stars also saw Moses lifting up the golden snake provided for their healing and hear the Voice that proclaimed, I know you think it is over. I know you think death is winning. I know you think that Promised Land is a lie and that you were fools to believe. But that is what I am asking you to do: Be fools. Believe. Believe, because there is still hope. Even now. 

Mother and Father are in the doorway now, talking in low, soothing voices that assure me of comfort and love. They too are staring at the stars.

Now I wonder if the stars see us, see me. They saw Adam and Even, the curse and the promise, they saw the Israelites and the snakes, the deaths and the dreams. They saw Jacob become Israel and Sarai become a mother and Joseph become a ruler. They saw walls fall down and the sun stand still and Hezekiah healed and the temple rebuilt.

But do they see us? Does God see us? It has been four hundred years since last He spoke. Four hundred years! Four centuries of nothingness, that Voice that is present in all the histories suddenly silent. It is as if He has left us, as if He has abandoned us at last.

Those are blasphemous thoughts, and I immediately shove them away, but the feelings of betrayal remain. Has it all been a lie? For a moment, as I imagined the lives the stars saw, I thought I could see the pattern: In the greatest darkness, there is light. In the greatest pain, there is comfort. In the greatest despair …

I had thought there was hope. That’s how it was in all the stories. Every single time, God was there and the promise remained. But now?

Like a caress, the wind moves over me. I hear Mother and Father move inside, and I am alone with the stars and my fears and—

—and, for some reason, the words of the rabbi last Sabbath, as he read from the Torah. Moses before the bush, asking whom he should say sent him, and God replied—

I AM. 

I AM. The stars seem to shine a bit brighter. Of course. The God I serve, He is the God Who Is. The truth of His existence does not depend on whether He reveals Himself to us, whether He speaks to us—but then I remember that He has revealed Himself to us. We have hundreds of years of stories of Him keeping the promise, of Him giving us hope.

The stories are true. 

I AM is also YHWH. Those consonants are the sound of breath. Our God’s name is the sound of our own breathing. He is speaking to me with every air I suck in. How could I have ever thought Him silent?

All those lives the stars have seen, they always ended with this: This is not the end. One day, one day, our Savior will come. One day, one day, the promise will be fulfilled. One day, one day …

Maybe soon. Maybe the silence is in preparation for God speaking the loudest we have ever heard.

Later, as I lie on bedmat waiting for sleep to come, I remind myself of the stars and can hear the Voice saying, I know you think that hope has died. I know you think it is all a lie. But your God is I AM, He exists, He is real, His promises are true, and can you not see the thread of hope that runs through the whole tapestry? Oh, there is hope, child. Never lose sight of that.

caribbean-stars

~

Adam and Eve, the curse and the promise: Genesis 3

Moses and the burning bush: Exodus 3

Moses and the golden snake: Numbers 21

“The stories are true.” ~ Andrew PetersonThe Wingfeather Saga

Jason Gray, “The Name of God is the Sound of Our Breathing”  (see this article about it)

More info on the 400 years of silence.

~

and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

{Romans 5:5}

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10 thoughts on “Hope {Advent, Week 1}

  1. I love, love, love this! Advent is my absolute favorite part of Christmas. I love stars; I love hope; I love historical fiction set in Bible times; I love I AM. And I love the connection to YHWH being the sound of breathing. The pictures you included make the story come alive. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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