Welcoming Hope (Advent Week 1)

Download jpg here.

As we begin the season of Advent, you may want to create a small sacred space for prayer and quiet. Each week I’ll suggest a small “everyday” item you can add to your space (or carry with you!) to help you reflect on the week’s theme.


Isaiah 64:1-9 If only you would tear open the heavens and come down!

Mark 13:24-37 …when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door. Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come… Don’t let him show up when you were expecting and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake!

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Add an invitation to your sacred space—any kind will do, a wedding invite, Christmas party open house, or even a printout of an email or an Eventbrite confirmation. If you use a blank invitation, consider filling it out: is there a date/time/place in the days ahead (or now) when you will be hoping for Christ’s presence?

In the 5th-6th centuries, Benedict of Nursia wrote a Rule for men and women living the monastic life. The Rule of St. Benedict was—is—based in scripture, awash in the practices of prayer, study, and silence, and centered in community. It still guides modern-day monastics and those who would follow their model.

The 53rd chapter of the Rule begins, “All guests who present themselves should be welcomed as Christ.” The Benedictine standard of hospitality is not just a tradition but a core belief, a functional living-out of the promise to welcome Christ—however he comes.

As we enter the season of Advent, the season of waiting for Christ’s arrival with us, the guidance of St. Benedict can help us open our hearts to the One who comes even (especially) in times of darkness. In this particular time in our world, when our traditional gatherings need to pause for the good of our neighbors, the core belief of hospitality can inspire us to welcome whatever “guests” come to the doors of our lives. How does Christ make himself known to us in every person, every experience, every emotion, every ray of light and shadow of darkness we encounter? How can we welcome all these “guests”?

How can we hold the door open for the hope we have in Jesus, in the new world and the new ways he comes to us?

Welcome, child of promise,
you who contain the evidence of God’s love for us
in a newborn body of bone and muscle
tears and laughter
flesh and blood.

We await your arrival
with something more than anticipation:
with deep longing,
because shadows lengthen around us
and voices argue convincingly that
it is what it is and
there is no hope for anything better.

In this echoing gloom
let us commit acts of hope:
give us imagination to picture a world made new.

Lead us to cultivate our gifts,
trusting you to grow your promise through us.

Spur us on to rejoicing
filled with faith that your reign 
is already breaking through.

Let us meet hope at the gate.
Because you are who you are,
the land you promise will be what it will be:
a place where justice rolls down,
and righteousness ever flows.

Welcome, child of promise, hope-bringer.
We open the door to you!

Study for the Annunciation, by Henry Ossawa Tanner ca. 1898. On view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

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