The Struggle and Hope of Advent

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Photo by Hakan Erenler on Pexels.com

It is the end of the first week of Advent, and, as St. Stephen’s wonderful curate, Rev. Shayna Watson, reminded us last Sunday, we light the candle of Hope this week.

Advent is a time of waiting, anticipation, and joy. But, as one of our Corps Members, Chloe, said recently, it is also a time of facing the darkness of this season and learning to embrace it and the beauty within it, as well as the hope that comes out of it.

We wrestle with the difficult signs of our times- news reports about natural disasters and the realities of climate change, a difficult political climate, and the repercussions of a society that often does not prioritize those in need, to name just a few.

And yet, we people of faith must also find ways to have hope. As Corps Member Elisabeth said in a recent reflection, we wrestle with how to engage with the tragedies of our world, and in wrestling we come into contact with God, just as Jacob who wrestled the angel was touched by God (Genesis 32).

So, we struggle, and we also find ways to act. As author and professor Barbara Brown Taylor says, “Learning to walk in the dark is an especially valuable skill in times like these—or maybe I should say remembering how to walk in the dark, since people of faith have deep pockets of wisdom about how to live through long nights of the wilderness.”

Rev. Shayna also reminded us that, though we are overwhelmed by the problems of the world, we must take small steps. We join in evening prayer each Wednesday evening in December in solidarity with LGBTQ individuals. We are present at the anti- white supremacy rally at the Capitol that occurred on Sunday. We meet with others concerned about climate change at St. Stephen’s and the local community. We invite friends, neighbors, and church members to join with us and celebrate the season at “Cookies, Cocoa and Community” last Friday evening. And we keep the long, slow work of change through our Friday formation times and at our partner organizations: Capital Area Head Start, the Episcopal Diocese of Central PA, Beacon Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, the Sierra Club, The Pennsylvania Utility Law Project and the Community Justice Project, and the Messiah College Office of Public Humanities. The work that each of these organizations is doing contributes to our hope, and helps us to keep going.

 

May we continue to struggle and hope throughout this Advent season.

-Micalagh Moritz, Program Director

Holy Saturday

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Today, on Holy Saturday, I have been reflecting on the in-between times of life. The times when we are waiting, when we are hoping for something more that we cannot yet see. The times when we are stuck in a season of life that we don’t love, when we are working on a problem that is unresolved, when the hard things seem too hard.

As I have the privilege of meeting with organizations all over Harrisburg to learn about what they do, and to determine how the Sycamore House might be able to collaborate, I think about this a lot. I meet with people who are working hard for justice, and who see little victories here and there, but who are often working, hoping, and waiting in faith for change. Change for immigrants and asylum seekers locked in a detention center in Berks County- men, women and children who don’t know how long they will be there, and if they will be sent back to their countries of origin (which many of them left fearing for their lives). Change for individuals in poverty who don’t have the resources to turn their electricity back on or to pay their heating bills. Change for those living in food deserts in Harrisburg, who hope for more affordable and fresh options. Change for parents hoping for an education that is equitable and will offer their children more opportunities and alternatives to “running the streets.” Change for youth in Harrisburg and all over the U.S. who want to be able to go to school without the threat of gun violence.

The time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday sometimes seems to stretch longer than we’d like it to. Waiting is not an easy thing to do. And yet, God works within us and around us, even in the waiting period.

As people of faith, we know the final outcome- God’s grace and love wins. As I once heard Tony Campolo say, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” Well, today, we are one day closer.

Let us join together, work, and pray faithfully, and say, “It’s Saturday, but Sunday’s coming.”

-Micalagh Moritz, Program Director