"Advent the Spirit of Hope" by Rev. Dr. Christine Emmerling 11/28/21 (text)
“Advent the Spirit of Hope” by Rev. Christine 11/28/2021
Today begins the Christmas tradition of Advent. My talk today is “Advent the Spirit of Hope.” The season of Advent begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day and ends on Christmas Day. In traditional religious teachings this is in remembering the miracle of Jesus’ birth, and his promised return.
Traditionally this is a time of prayer, the reading of scripture, and the lighting of candles. Our reading begins with the prophecy in Isaiah. Then the nativity story of Jesus’ birth, which is only recorded in the Book of Luke. The more orthodox take this time to fast, and in some older traditions begins 40 days before Christmas. The first known record of Advent being practiced was in Spain dating back to 380AD.
The word “advent” means “to come” or is the root of the word adventure. I like adventure, for me it’s a spiritual adventure that we are taking. It gives a feeling of wonder and excitement of what we will find or become.
Looking through the eyes of New Thought, this is a personal journey in preparing ourselves for the birth of Christ within our self. The second coming of Christ is within each and everyone. We realize that the Divine pattern of the Christ consciousness is already within us, but lies dormant until awakened and nurtured. Just like the seed is already in the ground, but needs the sun and to be watered to sprout and become its full potential.
This great wonder that we celebrate each year, is really the story of Mary, as she said, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Mary is the leading character, and the supporting roles goes to the angels and Joseph. Along with the three wise men and shepherds. The outcome is a new beginning with Babe Jesus in his starring role later to be known as Jesus the Christ. This story is filled with mystery and wonder. Each year this story is retold throughout the world by millions of Christians in renewing their faith.
Our spiritual practice is then filled through study, prayer, meditation, practical application and service. As part of this spiritual practice an Advent Wreath is set upon a table. Typically, an Advent wreath is made from an evergreen branch in the shape of a circle, or in today’s world it may be artificial. The evergreen wreath is used in this spiritual practice for it is rich in symbolism. The evergreen represents growth, hope, and being in a circle represents eternal everlasting life with no beginning or end.
Around the wreath there are four candles; one in each direction forming a square. The first 3 candles to be lit are purple which is the color for royalty, meaning the spiritual powers of the Christ to come forth. These 3 candles represent hope, faith, and wonder.
The 4th candle to be lit is pink which represents joy - the joy of knowing what has been promised is so close now. These four candles are lit one for each Sunday before Christmas Day. In the center of the 4 candles is a larger white candle that is lit on Christmas day. The white candle represents the birth of the Christ Consciousness within us. Lit candles remind us of the light within us; that we are a light unto the world.
Hope is the first spiritual power to unfold as we take this journey. The hope of the Hebrew people some 2700 years ago foretold, in Isaiah 9:2 & 6, of the coming Messiah also known as the Christ or the anointed one.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death upon them hath the light shined... For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Now let us light our 1st candle as we recommit ourselves to our spiritual adventure. For those that don’t have an Advent wreath, your imagination will do.
Hope is a word that has often been confused with faith, or has been thought to mean something desired is never fulfilled. To help clear this up, I will share with you a definition of “hope” from The Webster dictionary, “A feeling that what is wanted will happen; desire accompanied by expectation.” Now the definition for “faith”, “unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.”
Malinda Cramer wrote the following on hope in her book of 1890, The Science of Infinite Spirit And the Christ Method of Healing:
“Hope is where the affections are. That which we are attracted to we hope to attain, and hope causes the necessary effort for its attainment: in other words, if we have a desire or aspiration and make an effort to attain it, it is hope that prompts us to make that effort. If it were not for hope, effort or seeking would cease.
“Faith is the silent and absolute power or substance of hope, effort, or seeking. St. Paul said in Romans 8:24-25, ‘We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for; but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.’ So when we work diligently and patiently, as if already possessing what we hope for, faith is manifest which brings the condition desired.
“If our hope be in God, or Goodness, we hope for which is, and is for us. If it be not in God, or Goodness, it is based in negation or denial of Him; verily both bring their reward. What we sow the same do we reap.” (End)
In Proverbs 13:12, it says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” And, Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” Then in Hebrew 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hope is therefore a great power to bring forth our vision of our hearts desire. When there is no vision there is only bondage to the past, and hopelessness; a deep sadness like a dark veil covering our eyes to the light that is still there deep within waiting to be sparked with a new vision, a new desire, and once again hope is empowered.
In scripture the hope of the promised land began with Abraham, in Genesis 13:14-15, when the Lord promised that all the seeds of Abraham would have the land of Canaan and the surrounding land as well.
The Hebrew slaves of Egypt carried this vision of hope. Moses carried out this vision by faithfully leading the Hebrew people from Egyptian slavery to the promised land of freedom. The promised land is a state of consciousness which is the Presence of God within us all as the Christ consciousness.
The annual celebration of the birth of Christ, babe Jesus, is the fulfillment of the hope of the promised land. The three wise men journey following a star, their vision of hope, a sign, that brings them to where the baby rests. In the stage of hope we study, follow signs, meditate and pray. Which brings us to the Christ consciousness. We enter that state of consciousness, on the high mountain top where we can say I Am that I Am. That inner knowing of Oneness. Then we follow whatever is given for us to do, as Moses did in faith to free his people.
Many of us, I’m sure have had a period in our life where all seemed dark, lost, or as bondage to a situation not able to see a way out. In today’s world many people have lost much do to natural disasters; their jobs, family, homes. And, yet to pick up the pieces of their lives and begin anew.
A car crash had left me unable to stand or walk for very long, and therefore, no longer able to work as a Sr. Grocery Clerk. I had to reinvent myself. I decided to go to night school for Computer Science while working full time as a data entry clerk. The third day of being on the job the Sr. Programmer Analyst told me that someday I would have his job. When they needed someone to do computer backups I volunteered, and asked for programming jobs which I did after hours. A few years later he resigned for a better paying job. I became the Sr. Programmer Analyst, and soon after the Manager of Computer Services. There was hope, a vision in a new career, and lots of work and faith in making it so.
In Job, 14:7, it reads “There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again.” The plum tree we had in our courtyard had been cut down, to later sprout again, and grow strong and once again give fruit. The rose bushes at the back of the sanctuary had been dug up, and years later they sprouted back to life to again give flowers. Each year trees and bushes were pruned back. We knew not if they would come back in the spring, but we had hope, and most often with even greater growth than before.
Prior to planting seeds for the spring flowers, we have a vision of what our garden will look like. We are inspired to purchase an array of flowers seeds. We chart out where the seeds are to go, and prepare the ground to receive the seeds, then we plant. Next we faithfully water. Then one day we look out upon our garden to see the vision fulfilled, and we reap the beauty.
We are reminded that hope is a great power that carries a vision that is greater than the present state. Without hope their would be no vision to bring forth a change in conditions. Hope is that spark that feeds the soul to carry on even when the appearances give doubt. That regardless of the present conditions, that there is hope for a better day.
In New Thought we look past the appearances to the Truth that we know lies behind the seeming appearance - the truth of God, the perfect world that God created of beauty, love, joy, peace, harmony, abundance, wholeness, intelligence and wisdom.
When things look darkest, it is that God isn’t finished with it yet. Just wait and it will unfold to be the desired result or something even better. Instead of waiting and watching with expectation having hope, many start turning to doubt and fear - giving up on the dream and calling it now a nightmare or failure. This stalls the outcome, and we get the unfinished results.
In today’s world there are many visions, some hopeful and others not so. We do know a change in conditions are necessary. We cannot continue long on the current path we’re going on as a civilization. There are answers, there always are - its just being open to them.
Focusing on the problem itself has never brought forth anything new. Instead, there has to be a vision of the desired results and work towards the results. Carrying always the results in your mind and thoughts. Then as in a flash, the answer will come, and things will transform.
When we look back a little over a 100 years, to the end of the prior century. Here you had many people saying the same things. Shortage of food, disease, cities over crowded and pollution. One such problem was horse manure. In the cities there were so many horses, and of course lots of manure which left unattended leads to the water being contaminated and disease.
Then came the discovery of the automobile. In a short time horse manure was no longer a problem. If they stayed focused on the manure, we most likely would have ended up with huge landfills of manure. Instead they had a vision of new cleaner and faster transportation. Today we’re still focused on cleaner, faster and better transportation for an ever changing world.
In closing I leave you with this to ponder: What kind of vision or hope do you hold for the future of our world, nation, state, community, and your individual life?
Let us take this Advent season as a time for our soul’s renewed commitment to our spiritual adventure where we discover a higher vision for ourselves and each other “Christ in you, the hope and glory” 1 Col. 1:27.