On the 1st Sunday of Advent I received a text from a friend urging me to listen to a radio programme at 3pm. A church service. I hadn’t attended church that morning. I hadn’t attended church for some time. It had been two weeks and two days since I’d last seen him. I’d heard news of him that day and it had left me desolate.
My family were out. I put the radio on. The music was beautiful. The words washed over me and I tried to listen. I have always observed Advent, but I had never realised that some people call the first Sunday of Advent the Sunday of hope because the traditional readings are about the Old Testament patriarchs who believed a saviour would come.
My friend sent me another message. ‘I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that you have heard this news on Hope sunday. Hope exists regardless of what you feel or think. Hope is about what has already happened. Hope is not something you have to do or believe in. Hope has come and is alive. All you need to do is accept the truth of that. And then wait.’
Her words were powerful. I didn’t have to do anything. At that time I couldn’t do anything. Anything was beyond me.
Just over one week later we were about to leave on our holiday. Another friend called at the house. She knew all that I had been going through. She gave me tiny decorations for a Christmas tree – miniature scrabble letters on a red ribbon. She put them into my opened palm, pressed my fingers closed over them, and said ‘Take these with you’. I looked at the decorations.
Hope had been placed into my empty hand. I took it.