Can you feel it in the air? It’s momentum as the anticipation of the holiday season builds and people begin to make plans. Decorations go up, calendars fill and some, like me, pray for snow. Many of us have waited all year for the season that makes hope contagious.
One of my favorite things about this time of year is the beginning of Advent kicking off a week long reflection on hope. And lately, I have needed to hold on to a whole lot of hope and a decent amount of coffee.
I am hoping for some hard things as we come to the close of the year. I am learning that hope and joy have to be rooted deep down inside of me. They are not feelings or emotions sparked by external circumstances. Hope and Joy propel me to keep going as cases come across my desk of need. The weight of needing answers, strategy and solutions can pull oh so heavy on my mind and heart.
There are stories that fill my days right now of how desperate people are for a miracle, an answered prayer, a warm meal or a safe place to sleep. And I am right there with them, linking my arm to theirs and praying and hoping.
It’s why I started the Holiday Campaign. It’s why I was crazy enough to believe for $15,000 by December 31st to help my friends in Jordan, Costa Rica and the United States.
It feels like the perfect time to hope like crazy. You know why? Because right now people around the world are celebrating Advent by lighting the first candle-the candle of hope. And when I think about that, my heart wants to explode with hope at the magnitude of hundreds of thousands of candles interrupting darkness. We need hope to keep burning. I need hope to keep burning.
We are all interrupting darkness when we take time to listen to one another instead of shouting over each other. Darkness is interrupted when I share a cup of coffee with my friends in the red light district. Darkness is interrupted when my Christian teammate breaks bread with a Muslim family. Darkness is interrupted when a child receives a warm meal. Darkness is interrupted when time is taken to hear the story of one who is incarcerated. Darkness is interrupted when time is taken to hear a victim’s story. Darkness is interrupted every time a refugee is welcomed. Darkness is interrupted every single time we love without agenda.
Can I share a story with you that has just marked my heart lately?
One of the stories from the holiday campaign is of a family affected by the Syrian war. Like most families who crossed over into Jordan fleeing government troops, this family left Syria with very little to their name after the mom was struck in the back of the head by a rifle, suffering brain damage due to the blunt force trauma.
Decisions have not come easy for this family who’ve spent some time in a UAE-sponsored medical camp in Azraq, Jordan where the mom received medical attention. Having a daughter with cerebral palsy, a wife with permanent brain damage, and young children dependent on his care- you can imagine the challenges this father faced in leaving everything behind.
Now outside the camp, the family lives in a poorer neighborhood in an urban area. They maintain a small home of their own by sifting through plastic and other materials from the dump to sell but it’s not enough to protect them this winter from the cold.
This Christmas, I am hoping hard to fix their roof.
I have thought of all of the things I am hoping hard for as I have lit the candle each night this week. As we come to the end of the first week of Advent, I think of the wonder it is to step into the center of what feels like a hopeless situation and make hope contagious. And my heart burns hard for hope to be loud.
May we all continue to interrupt darkness and hope hard this season.