Flame of Hope, Fire of Love
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? - 1 Thessalonians 2:19
I allow myself one Hallmark Christmas movie per year.
I like the ones in which the beloved family business (inn, bakery, bookstore, etc.) is being foreclosed on during Christmas by a handsome but jaded young investor whose last minute change of heart is usually brought about by a fetching local romance combined with a heaping helping of holiday “magic”.
While it’s certainly a pedestrian view of real Christmas magic (if they only knew!), one thing I enjoy in these movies is that things change. Stuff works out. People behave differently. That’s how we viewers are meant to know that the magic is real.
This Sunday we introduce the Advent season by lighting the Candle of Hope. It reaffirms our confident expectation of Christ’s return and the rescue of all things. But that first candle is also a call to action, not just contemplation. That’s why Paul tells us that hope bows to love. “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Love is the greatest not because it is some higher order emotion, but because love is the active animation of our hope. Love is the outward performance of our inward expectation. Through it we create change, we behave differently. When love animates the hope in us, we prove our divine magic is real and project it to the viewers in the world around us. We become, in our performance of love, the embodiment of hope.
So, as the first Candle of Hope is lit may its tiny flame become an ever-kindling fire of love in action. For that is my Advent calling.