Grateful For What Has Been & Hopeful For What Is To Come

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Advent is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.While the word Advent, also meaning arrival, primarily relates to the first and second coming of Christ the Messiah, I’ve found myself contemplating the irony or the meaning of the word in many conversations I have found myself in this past month.

It’s natural to find conversations at this time of the year reflecting on the events and happenings from the past twelve months, the big stuff, the hard stuff, and the good stuff.

But 2015, this year seems to have been quite the year for so many.

‘2015 has been one of, if not the hardest year of my life . . . but I’m so grateful.’

In some way, shape, or form, that statement is what I have heard echoed time and time again about this past year.

  • unexpected events

  • unanticipated change

  • terminal diagnoses

  • death

  • loss

  • grief

  • unmet expectations

  • unfulfilled dreams

  • waiting

  • enduring

Those are the buzzwords I keep hearing used about 2015.

Maybe you can relate to some of those words.

Maybe 2015 was one of the hardest years of your life.

Maybe 2015 was the best year of your life thus far.

‘. . . but I’m so grateful’

In many ways, gratitude is a practiced response. It is a conditioned response.

That makes gratitude sounds sort of fake and inauthentic.

But if gratitude wasn’t a response from deep within our bones, so gut deep, how could it be the same response for those who have had some of the hardest year and some who have had the best year?

Four of the candles the comprise the advent wreath, one of which is lit each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas, are representative of hope, love, joy, and peace.

From deeply anchored hope, gratitude is born.

From the knowledge that we are wholly and passionately loved, gratitude is born.

From joy that wells up from deep within, not contingent on circumstances, gratitude is born.

From the unshakable peace of knowing  we are not alone, gratitude is born.

In the sense, it’s no real surprise that gratitude would be the same response across the board for the hardest years and the best years.

So as we anticipate, as we wait for the arrival or Christmas and all the celebrations, sorrow, and joy it will hold, we look beyond.

For many, we are looking further beyond Christmas and anticipate the arrival of a new year, a new start.   A year the will hold as many hopes and dreams, fears and uncertainties, but a year that we are grateful to be given and hopeful for what it will hold.

As we look with hope towards a new year, where we may see more fully the inner workings of this one, the beauty of the redemption, and fullness of joy, we look towards advent, the arrival, of our Savior when we will be healed and made whole when he comes at last.