It is a new year, really. Not a new calendar but a new Liturgical year, a new church year. Even though the church uses the same calendar you use for lots of things, the church year is different from the calendar. It begins with the First Sunday of Advent, which this year is November 29 (today, as I type).
Each Sunday in Advent, there are four, has a traditional theme. The first Sunday is the Sunday of Hope.
I like the idea of kicking off a new year with hope but what do we have to hope for this year? We are in the middle of a pandemic. Everyone I know has been touched to one degree or another by COVID-19, I am fortunate, I don’t have any “one degree of separation” people who have died from the virus but I certainly have “two degrees of separation” from some of those who have died, may they rest in peace. I have had my entire world re-shaped. This pandemic is one of the most significant contributing factors to my current medical leave due to stress. Many people are far worse off than I am. So where’s the hope?
The thing about hope is it fundamentally is NOT about what we can see and figure out for ourselves, that isn’t hope, that’s ability or skill or talent or . . . something. We need hope when we don’t have the ability, skill, talent, or . . . anything to fix things ourselves. The pandemic is beyond any of us to fix, at least in the short term and not by ourselves ever. But many problems are the same, systemic racism, global poverty, climate change, the ultimate end, we need hope for those too. St. Paul gives us some reasons for hope in 1 Corinthians and that is where we spent most of our time this Sunday.
I hope (no pun intended) you find reasons to and for hope in this sermon. Stay safe and be well.