I wrote this post last year, a few days after the First Sunday in Advent, but I felt too raw to share it. This year has brought different challenges for most of us, both personally and globally, and I’m sure we’re all now feeling a bit raw from those. May hope enter into all our hearts throughout this season of preparation and contemplation.
We caught up on lighting the first Advent candle at home today. I was thinking of my Nana all the while, as I used her wreath and the last candles she bought for it. She passed away last January, making this our first Christmas without her.
I remember when I was very young she let me light one of the Advent candles when we were gathered at her house. We listened to her read, and I sang with her at the piano. I properly learned “I Saw Three Ships” that night. I don’t know why that detail in particular has stuck with me all these years.
Tonight Anastasia said, “I’ll bet Nana’s really loving it in Heaven.” She is, my sweet baby girl. I know she is.
We lit the Hope candle tonight, and as tearful as I was, hope was there with a certainty which, to be very honest, I did not expect, though I should have. It sustains me always. It is a hope that began before even the prophets, a hope that carries on beyond the Advent of our Lord, a hope that goes beyond the cross and the grave, through to the resurrection, and beyond.
More than hour has passed since we lit that candle, and I have pored over verse after verse trying to find just one to sum it all up. But the truth is that they are all so inseparable from one another, as the birth of Christ is inseparable from his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Still, the following passage struck a chord,
“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.”
Psalm 130:5-8 NASB