“Once again, as on a silent night long ago, we are challenged to live and love with outrageous hope.” It deeply touched me then, and continues to do so, Advent after Advent.
The people of the Advent Scriptures are those who knew what it meant to live with outrageous hope, to dream impossible dreams, to desire the desires of God’s heart: freedom from hunger, slavery, oppression and poverty; fruitfulness and abundance shared by all; a world where all people feel accepted and at home; and, more than anything, the gift of peace.
This year, the second week of Advent repeats two scripture readings: Isaiah 40:1-11 (Sunday and Tuesday) and Luke 1: 26-38 (Monday and Friday). Both readings speak of and challenge us to live and love with outrageous hope and impossible dreams.
“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,” speaks the prophet Isaiah. “Fear not to cry out the good news, and say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God.’” Imagine those words being spoken to the peoples of the Middle East today... words that seem at the very least naïve and impossible! Yet the people to whom they were spoken almost 3,000 years ago were people displaced from their homeland, captured and oppressed by others who had destroyed their temple and their land. Outrageous hope in the promises of God is what kept these people going, in spite of all the reasons to give into despair. Can these words offer the same hope to people today? Can they speak to the thousands of displaced persons in our world, in our country, with the same hope? What is our challenge here to live and love with outrageous hope?
Because of her “yes,” she came to know the perils of being an unwed pregnant teenager in a culture that could legally stone her to death! She experienced what it was like to be an “illegal alien” in a foreign land because she had to escape her own land to save her life and the life of her child. She knew the agony of being a mother of a condemned criminal, and watching him die at the hands of an unjust society. What was the hope and the dream that enabled such strength to live in Mary? If we are to be an Advent People in 2014, we need to be captured by the same outrageous hope and impossible dream that our ancestors knew.
As we “listen with the ear of our hearts” to God’s repetitious Word this week, how will we live and love with outrageous hope in our own corners of the world? How will we dream the impossible dream and live in a way that it might come true?
The following quote captures the challenge:
2229 W. Joppa Road
Lutherville, MD 21093