Life can be so difficult. Humanity in general is not always compassionate, caring, generous, or just plain kind. In a world where people call each other names, bully one another online, and where there seems to be so much violence and war, it can be hard to feel hopeful. Yet this is what the season of Advent is all about. It is about hope: hope for a better world; hope for the peace of God; hope for a better humanity. For every story of hate that we read in the news or here on the television there are those stories of inspiration as well though they often go under reported. Stories that remind us of the promised love of God, and remind us that we don’t have to wait until some distant time in the future to experience the type of love, justice, care, and hope that Christ came to this world to share.
This week, I spent a lot of time reading the news, and was becoming a little frustrated as I read about impeachment proceedings, school shootings, and a police officer who was attacked and beaten for helping a woman in need. And I said to Laura, “This is depressing. All I want is to read something that is inspirational. The whole world can’t be filled with so much drama and hate.” And then she sent me two news links that have just that. They focus on all the good that is going on in the world that rarely gets highlighted in the news. And for the first time in a long time I felt like there was hope for this world but it takes each one of us dedicating ourselves to living the life that Christ came to this world to teach us.
In the article that I read, a high school physics teacher has taken on more than just teaching his students about science. But rather the students claim that he is teaching them what they call Mr. Wright’s Law of Love. He takes an interest in all the struggles facing these teens from abuse at home, to inconsistent housing, to food insecurities, to divorces, abortions, and much more. They see him as someone they can talk to who does not judge but offers to help them in whatever ways that he can, even if it is just offering a safe place for them to talk. And this Law of Love is what these students share with others.
When we prepare ourselves for Christmas and the coming of Christ this year, I urge us to think about what rules our lives and our decision making. Is it the overwhelming inundation of hate, fear, and violence or do we make the Law of Love which was originally brought to this world with the birth of Christ central to our lives? Isaiah promised a world, just as in need as ours, that life does not have to revolve around the chaos of the world, around the corruption that seems to be mounting all around us. But rather God has heard our prayers of desperation and has promised something more. He has promised a leader to show us the way of love, to give us hope that there can be a better tomorrow.
Yes, Christ came to this world approximately 2000 years ago, but he is still our light in the darkness. Isaiah is quoted as saying this of John, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”. John came as a prophet to Christ’s world during a time of particularly duress. He came to help the people prepare for the coming of the savior, the coming of the baby Jesus who would one day show the world the type of kindness and love we are each called to in life. So if we want to truly prepare ourselves of John called the Jews of Israel to do then we need to start living into the love and compassion of Christ. It is not enough to just claim a faith. It is not enough to say the all right things.
What we say, what we claim, and what we do in life need to match. So if you want to stop seeing all this violence, death, drama, and chaos in the world around us, then it is up to us to do more than just pray, to do more than just grumble about how depressing our world has gotten. We have to change the way we live so we become the inspiration for others to choose better actions and lives for themselves. We are often taught that faith is just what we claim, what we profess, but Jesus came to this world and taught something different.
Yes it is what we believe but that should drive us towards living life for one another and to live in to the hope, joy, love, and peace of Christ’s message to the world. Catherine de Hueck Doherty, a 20th century religious order founder, reminds us this Christmas season, “Faith walks simply, childlike, between the darkness of human life and the hope of what is to come”. We need to walk our faith with the hope that our actions, our faiths, lived well will share the peace that was promised with the birth of Christ and ignite hope for something better in the hearts of people everywhere. We can choose to live into the hate all around or we can choose to live the message of the Christ child as that high school teacher does each and every day by caring for the needs of others. So what do you choose to do this advent season? Will you allow for the darkness of the world to rule your lives or will you allow the promises and hope of Christ to influence your attitudes and your actions?
 Matthew 3: 3, RSV.
 Catherine de Hueck Doherty, a 20th century religious order founder.
(Isaiah 11: 1-10 and Matthew 3: 1-12)