Scripture ~ “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Spiritual Focus ~ “Hope is the place where joy meets struggle.” Parker J. Palmer
Breath Prayer ~ New hope, deep joy
Advent is the beginning of the new church year that began this past Sunday. Advent means “coming” in Latin and is celebrated in most western Christian traditions. Advent is a season when we revisit the story of the Jewish people’s longing for a Messiah, a long-awaited fulfillment of a promise from God of a Savior. While Advent draws on themes of waiting, anticipation and expectation, what we celebrate each year is the fulfillment of a beautiful promise of Presence, God with us, Emmanuel.
Church traditions vary but most churches light candles each Sunday that represent the virtues of Jesus that we hope to embody. Candles that represent promise, hope, joy, peace, love and purity. On Christmas we light the Christ candle celebrating the light that has come into the world, coming to us in the form of a baby. The story is of a struggle, struggle of a people lost in dark times, the struggle of a birth in the dark place of a manger, a birth that brings hope and joy to a desperate world. The story of hope meeting joy in struggle is a beautiful metaphor for us to hold in our lives today, in everyday living and practice.
Many yoga practices light candles to remind us of the light within us. Namaste is a Sanskrit greeting of honor and recognition of that deep seed of goodness and light that is within each of us. While the lighting of a candle is an outward expression reminding us of the light within, so should we remember that hope and joy are truly experienced within regardless of circumstance outside of us. When we light a candle with the intention of connecting with the light of Christ within we experience a new hope and deep joy that cannot be extinguished by outward experiences. We light the candle, breathe deeply and lean into the beautiful promises from God, resting in the knowledge that God IS faithful to God’s promises, as witnessed in the coming of the Christ child.