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The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

'Stars Reflecting Mountain Lake' photo (c) 2010, Forest Wander - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

[Editor's note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The reading for this post is Romans 8:18-27. Keep reading Bread Blog for more Advent reflections.

By Rev. Scott Clark

In the Christmas hymn, we come upon the little town of Bethlehem in a deep sleep. We walk at night down Bethlehem's dark streets, and while mortals sleep, the silent stars go by. It is not a place of light-hearted, happy hope. No, here, the hopes and fears of all the years mingle in restless, uneasy waiting. It is a place of real life and real fears and real hope--hope for one who will save us from all that does us harm.
So too, in Romans 8, all creation joins together in real hope. At the beginning of this passage, we find ourselves subject to futility. But even so we hope. We hope together in the groans of labor. We hope together in sighs too deep for words.
We hope together for that which is not yet seen. We hope together for and in and through . . . Christ. And then the apostle Paul says, so quietly that you could easily miss it, "It is in this hope that we are saved" - in the midst of real life, even in our groans and sighs too deep for words. It is in this hope that we are saved.
This year in our Advent devotions, we enter together into a season of hope – real hope in the midst of real life. Our theme for this season of prayer is "The Hope of All the Earth," as we pray and wait together for and in Christ. Here are just a few questions to begin our prayer: What is your deepest hope this Advent season? Where do you hear the world groaning together in sighs too deep for words? Where in your deep and dreamless sleep do you most need to hear great glad tidings? Where do you--where do we--most need the saving touch of God's love for us in Jesus Christ?
As we pray, let us hope together this Advent season--trusting that on Christmas Eve we will sing again, "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."
Rev. Scott Clark is associate dean of student life and chaplain at San Francisco Theological Seminary.  


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