For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
When I was a child, I couldn’t wait for Christmas. By October, I had my list ready to give to “Santa”. As the day got closer, I became more excited – so excited, that I started looking for the hidden gifts. When I found them, I guessed every one and hoped for the best. Then Christmas Eve arrived and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I asked if I could open one gift. But no, the only thing I was allowed to open was the door to my bedroom and the sheets on my bed. I sat at the window of my bed and watched the night sky, searching for the sleigh with a red lit reindeer guiding the way. I knew better than to think Rudolph or his friends were going to land on my roof but the anticipation and hope still filled my heart. Then the morning came and so did the joy of opening the presents and the peaceful days ahead.
Well, things are different for me now. I’m not that little girl anymore and Christmas isn’t my favorite season. Advent is. As a minister, I see the anticipation and hope in a completely different light now. Advent is the hope in something that you can’t see like you can Rudolph or a Christmas tree. Advent is the time when in the midst of life and the struggles that come with it, we wait with patience and search for hope in what is not seen – God. We know that God is always there, but sometimes you have to look a little harder for the light and search a little deeper to feel the warmth of the glow. There are days that are harder than others and there are times when you wish above all else finding God would be as easy as opening the gift under the tree. But sometimes, life is not that easy and Advent is a way to get us back on track. Advent gives us the chance to find the joy, peace, hope, and love in the midst of the struggle.
Advent is the chance for the spirit to guide us through the journey, knowing that on the other side we will find God again, in the gift of a child.