Do you remember how on Sunday I compared the journey of Advent to a laborious hike? And how we find HOPE when we continue to climb? Because Advent, just like faith, is a journey and it is sometimes hard to remember that the view at the top is worth it because our muscles hurt or we are thirsty or sunburnt, or just worn out. Well, today was one of those days. It’s the end of another long day, but there have been wonderful holy moments hidden in the chaos. I found hope in some small ways because I was looking for it and because I was watching and waiting.
Today I had the opportunity to go with Emmaline on her first field trip of this year. We rode a school bus which my children have always been obsessed with and I now have a newfound respect for the sanity of all school bus drivers. (If you are one of them, there’s a special place in heaven for you)! Emmaline and 120 of her closest first-grade friends went to the Orlando Science Center for the day. I had some really special moments with my firstborn and times that were just ours. But part of my job as a chaperone was to watch two additional children that I did not birth, and I quickly found that to be more exhausting than watching my own three children. Shout out to all the teachers out there!
We explored the Science Center, a place that our family knows and loves well, but it had special significance and was extra fun because we were doing it with all of Emmaline‘s classmates. The bus ride back to school was equally chaotic and when the field trip was over, the rest of the day continued with meetings, school pick-ups, Nutcracker dance rehearsal, and finally a wonderful respite in the middle of a busy week. If you missed the Advent Family Experience that we had tonight at the MFLC, it really was a place to experience Hope. People from the 9 AM and 11 AM services came together for a warm meal, crafts, gingerbread-making fun, and all of the beautiful chaos that comes with young church families! Pastor Leah and Pastor Jared and their teams created a beautiful atmosphere for families of all ages to learn a little bit more about this Advent season. I couldn’t be more proud of this amazing team that God has put together at this church.
The point is not that we need more programs or activities or events to experience HOPE, the point is that hope is found when we are together. When we break bread together, and we help watch each other’s children on the playground or when we offer to rock our babies, so that hungry mamas can eat. Hope it’s found when children find another child and tell them that we’re praying for them to get better or when we take a deep breath and go for a walk outside just to experience the beauty of Creation. Hope is found in a story, a laugh or a hug, or an invitation to join in or get to know. At Christmas time we probably have more opportunities to practice that hope and to model for our loved ones. Remember, hope is found more easily when we walk this journey together because we were never meant to walk this path alone. When we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and we come together with people who do the same, our hope grows so we can keep going. And even when we’re tired and frustrated and overwhelmed, hope it’s still found.
And so my encouragement to you, to me, to us all, is to keep looking for that hope. Especially when you have days like today. Don’t neglect to be with the body or become so busy that you forget how much we need each other. And what a joy it is to be together!