Presence and Hope in Times of Struggle

Here we are in a fairly bleak December, in a month in which we’re exploring the themes of Presence and Hope. It’s not hard to draw connections between those themes and some of the December holidays.

Solstice bringing life and light into the cold, inimical winter. Hannukah celebrating the power of humanity to act powerfully and courageously and collaboratively, to make decisive change and re-establish threatened values and identity. Christmas, of course, reminding that even in harsh and uncertain circumstances, life and hope always own a place in the world and deserve celebration and preservation in human hearts. And Kwanzaa, lifting up the blessings of work, family and living with hope that comes from being grounded in heritage and principles and appreciation of unity and connection.

It may feel strange or disjunct to be preparing for the holidays, making a place for them in our homes and in our hearts, spending time on decorations or treats or gifts or celebrations at a time when we have such concerns for our selves, our friends and neighbors, our nation and our planet. Certainly it is not time to ignore any of those urgencies. They are warnings and they are real. Only our awareness and commitment will create the power and processes to overcome all that we face now as people of progressive faith and values.

But our awareness and commitment will not be enough. Not even if we add courage and persistence will it be enough. Joy still needs a place in our hearts and in our lives. Presence – the sense of all that is larger than us, perception of the sacred that moves throughout our world and among us and even within us. Hope – that treasure that sees us through the toughest times, that gives us sparks of anticipation or vision or inspiration that can grow at least to a warmth that sustains, even to a blaze that will change everything. The holidays come at the toughest time of year, as they do again now, right when we need them. Right when we need to observe them, to give them their due, the time and attention they require, because that time and attention will renew our own sense of presence and hope in ways that uplift us now and will renew us for the days ahead. The holidays rely on us to sustain them. We rely on them to sustain us.

Give time, this month, to presence and hope in as many ways as you can. We will surely be doing that together in church. May we share in the joys of the season, the mindfulness that presence conveys, the lift that hope offers. They matter more than ever.

See you in church,