Advent Devotional: Dec. 19, 2020

By Erin Steele

John 12:24:
“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that 2020 belongs on the trash heap of history. Somewhere in the sadistic heat of July, I decided my feelings had been hurt enough for this year, and I wasn’t going to hope for anything to get better. I resigned myself to wallowing in this dark season, and figuring it out when we’re able to breathe freely again. We grow weary of hoping sometimes, don’t we?

Then I came across a quote from Seamus Heaney that changed my mind: “Hope is not optimism, which expects things will turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.” 

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

It is enough, today, to find the good thing in front of us, and decide it’s worth reigniting even the smallest spark of hope. Maybe it’s the changing of the leaves, the warmth of the sun on a cold day, the five minutes of quiet you get when your children find an old Lego set in the basement and haven’t started arguing over who it belongs to yet. Whatever it is, may you find your good today. 

The story says that the greatest force in the universe chose to become like us, and was born into what history might call a trash heap. He came into the dark of night, after 400 years of silence, a tiny spark in an abyss of hopelessness. He is an eternal reminder that because of who he is, there is always good worth working for in this world. 

This Scripture may not be the very first one you think of when you set out to read something to bring you hope, but it has been a constant refrain for me. It’s a reminder that even when all looks lost, that death has won and had the final word, the work of hope is done in the quiet, and in the pain, and in the darkness. So, even after we’ve given ourselves over to the reality of what we face, may we still have eyes to see. 

God of the watching ones, 
give us Your benediction. 
God of the waiting ones, 
give us Your good word for our souls. 
God of the watching ones, 
the waiting ones, 
the slow and suffering ones, 
give us your benediction, 
your good word for our souls, 
that we might rest and rise 
in the kindness of your company. 
— adapted from the book Celtic Daily Prayer