advent journal: hope


As Advent begins, I wonder how Christ can be born again in our time and in our culture. Yet Luke starts his story by noting that Quirinius was governor of Syria, and he made Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem because Augustus declared a change in the tax plan. They were surrounded by wars and rumors of wars, by a government that had no regard for anyone but the rich and powerful. They were not married, but they were about to be parents. In the midst of all that was wrong with the world, they were called to hope.

Rebecca Solnit says, To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk. (Hope in the Dark 4)

For years, I have written on this blog trusting that I had a helpful, and perhaps hopeful, word to say. I have not written here in weeks because I have allowed myself to be beaten down the despair disguised as bravado and the cynicism that masquerades as certainty. The vicious volume on most any media, coupled with another difficult round with my depression have kept me quiet. In the silence, I have worked hard to listen better and I have learned that I don’t have to weigh in on everything. I probably could stand to find a balance, though, because I want to be better at hoping, at living with an open heart and uncertainty.

Hoping is not wishing. Hoping is not believing. Hope put Mary and Joseph on the road, set the shepherds running into town, and made John the Baptist call out the proud and powerful. I hear hope these days in the voices of William Barber, Colin Kaepernick, Anne Lamott, John Pavlovitz, Timothy Tyson, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and Naomi Shihab Nye—people who keep calling us to an open heart and uncertainty. My list is not exhaustive. Neither is it political. I do not hear hope from our elected officials. I hear gloom and safety.

This morning, we lit the candle of hope. This week, I will meet you here each day to offer all the hope I can find. It’s dark, I know. But did you see that moon?



  1. Thank you for being real. The moon is awesome, isn’t it? Another voice I have added to my Advent pondering sis Jan Richardson. She knows the darkness.

  2. we lit the candle of hope tonight and knowing the complete project of Advent is afoot makes me grateful! Thank you for your words.

  3. Milton’s theme: ”It’s dark, I know. But do you see that moon?”

    Resume of Paul of Taursus:

    ”I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather” (2 Corinthians 11.23-29, The Message).

    + It’s dark, he knows. But he seizes that moon!

    Milty! Milty! Four cheers for Milty!

  4. To my dismay, the moon is obscured by clouds, but every so often, her light, if not her super self, shines through. Hope. Thanks, Milton. Let’s light one candle for hope.

  5. Yes, I see the moon. The resonance in my soul rustles with the despair and disappointment you articulate so well here. I need all the hope you can muster this year, my friend.

    Thank you for rising up for advent, once again. More than ever, this year, you are needed.

  6. The super moon was covered by clouds here. 🙁 But as we arrived home tonight, Austin called me back out of the garage and pointed up… “Mom. Do you see how bright those clouds are?!?”

  7. Milton,
    I always love reading your posts because they are authentic and vulnerable – two traits I constantly want to display but struggle with at times. You and one of you commenters common to both of us display those so well. I am thankful to know you and for the blessing you are to me now and in the past. I know your writing touches many more than you probably realize.

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