Advent Day 17 - Hope

The Tattenham Corner Community Sheep trail began on Dec.6th for the local schoolchildren. They have to match sheep names with shops, businesses, churches etc. to earn a very small reward!  The sheep are of various styles and sizes and are placed with their name in the window so as to be easily seen. This sheep’s name is Hope. I wonder what window it is in.

The people who visit this place value Hope highly. Hope for them is not some glib or frothy optimism  a vague feeling that ‘everything will be okay in the end’ but a conviction that, because of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, along with his ongoing presence, all can be endured with confidence.  

Mary is a particular model for our Advent. She not only heard the angel’s message – she listened to it. The message of the angel did not remain something external to her. She opened her heart to the news she received, even though she did not understand all the implications. Not only did Mary listen, she pondered. This continual reflection on the impact of the Word must surely be the model for us in Advent – for it is through our pondering on the Word that we come to know the true meaning of Hope.

St. Benedict reminds us, as he lists the Tools of Good Works, that we must “never lose hope in God’s mercy.” This Hope is central to our celebration of Advent, for it is Hope that enables us to persevere in patient, joyful expectancy.

It has been said that Hope is the virtue that marks the Christian. Hope is not optimism, for that is something that is simply human. Hope, on the other hand, is a gift, a virtue. We need only receive it.

       (Rt Revd Richard Moth)