Because I didn’t grow up in a traditional denomination, I have only practiced Advent for the last couple of years. And I am absolutely intrigued by its themes: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. What powerful attributes to both study about God’s character, and to aspire to in our own lives!
But see, Hope is the one that sort of stumped me. I guess I’ve just never really valued Hope as much as her sisters and cousins…like FAITH!! Faith is powerful, risky, and often quite flashy. I like her. Peace is sweet and meek in a way that I don’t completely get, but I find admirable her commitment to be the better person. And I don’t even need to get into Joy, Love, and Courage.
But Hope? Sure, she’s cool and all…but she was never as attractive as the others.
I was very wrong.
What I’ve come to realize is that Hope is the Light of Earendil. For those not well-versed in Lord of the Rings lingo, the Light of Earendil was an Elvish relic with very interesting history…but that’s for the real Tolkien nerds. What you need to know is a simple line that Galadriel speaks as she gifts this amazing artifact to Frodo Baggins: “To you, Frodo, I give the Light of Earendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”
Wow, what a gift! What an amazing, super rare endowment…that goes right into his pocket and doesn’t come out again for a very long time. In fact, you kind of forget about Galadriel’s token, until Shelob comes around–a very large spider thingy, in a very dark place. In the past Frodo has used many other weapons, but they have all proven unworthy of this terrifying foe. All of his resources have been exhausted, the spider is coming his way, and he reaches into his pocket…and finds Hope. And he wields that baby for all she’s worth.
And she saves his life.
Hope always comes through. Sure, she doesn’t have a lot of bling, she isn’t the life of the party–honestly, most of the time you don’t even notice her. Until she’s the only one left in the room. And then all of a sudden, Hope matters a whole lot. She is our lifeline, our last chance. And she is up to the task.
“And Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
I have learned, through years of ministry, how vital Hope is in my life. I wield every other weapon in my arsenal, but eventually I come up against a foe that defeats them all…and inevitably I turn to Hope as a last resort. But here’s the thing: she never disappoints me. She never puts me to shame. Because when I come to her, when I lean on her, when I throw myself into her, the biggest, ugliest, most vicious foe–the one that no other weapon can defeat–crouches and flees beneath her light and power.
Hope, friends. She’s the start of waiting, the basis of anticipation, the grounding to Advent. And as we move a little closer to celebrating the first coming of our Lord (and every day closer to His Second Coming too), I hope you are able to wield her light just a little bit brighter.