Advent: Hope with J. Nicole Morgan

Advent: Hope with J. Nicole Morgan

J. Nicole Morgan discusses Hope and the concept of having hope when things don’t turn out the way you imagined. A transcript is available below the video.

[00:00:00] Happy holidays, everyone. My name is J. Nicole Morgan and I was asked to talk to you a little bit about hope this Advent season.

[00:00:08] I'm sitting here next to my Christmas tree in a home that I've been in just a little over a month. I'm delighted and thrilled to be here, but it's far from all of the hopes that I had for my life right now. Prior to this I lived for four years in the guestroom at my parents' house, post-grad school, while I waited for my millennial self to catch back up to being able to support myself.

[00:00:30] I had moved back to Georgia with a plan. I was going to buy a home in the trailer park where I grew up and open it up to my neighbors. Get to know them, have a little bit of community, nothing too crazy - but literally just get to know my neighbors. A big part of that plan was I was going to have a place where we could gather for dinner - once a week maybe. Everybody would sit and talk and we would just get to know each other. But - I'm here and it looks a little bit different. Long story short I ended up renting in a different town instead of buying a home there. And part of that reality means that I have a small little table. It seats two comfortably; four if you stretch it, but we only have three chairs. So readjusting those hopes a little bit.

[00:01:22] Last night I had five people here for dinner with three chairs. So we moved the table into the living room and we stuck in the corner next to the couch and another chair and I put my three mismatched kitchen chairs around it and we all had a place to sit at the table. It wasn't my hope but that was the reality. And it worked. We ate. We laughed. We talked. It was a great time.

[00:01:48] But it was a picture for me of that hope deferred or how hope sometimes doesn't always turn out like you're expecting. And I guess that's kind of what Advent is all about - this idea that our hope sometimes doesn't match up with reality, at least not in the specifics.

[00:02:07] Christmas and Advent is the story of a little baby who showed up in a manger. Not a king. Not a warrior. Not anything that people were expecting to change the world. But the little baby showed up in Bethlehem and eventually that meant a whole new world. One that no one was expecting - except Mary who definitely knew and told us when she sang her song that Jesus was coming and he was going to exalt the humble, that he was going to fill the hungry with good things, that this baby showing up meant that our hopes were not unfounded even if they looked a little differently than what we were expecting and what we were planning for.

[00:02:51] One of the first things I unpacked in my house when I moved in was a set of four wooden magnets. The letters spell out "HOPE." They're made of Olive Wood from Bethlehem crafted by the Palestinian community there who has taught me so much about living into hope and seeing hope despite current realities that are painful and often hopeless.

[00:03:17] This Advent season I'm looking for ways that those hopes and the dreams - the call that God put on my life to open my doors and to make space for neighbors and for others and to get to know the people who literally live next door to me -looking for ways that that shows up in unexpected places. And how I can move the dining room table into the living room and find space for everyone. There is nothing elegant about it. It's not refined. It's not Pinterest or Instagram worthy. But it works and people have a place to sit and there's food on the table and there's laughter and there's talking. And that's the heart of the hope anyway: that there's a space to gather and that there's room for everyone.

[00:04:05] I think that's the heart of the hope of Christmas, of Advent, as well. That there's room and there's space for everyone. Right now in our world that hope seems hopeless, too. It's so easy to get discouraged and I would say even right to get discouraged and to feel that lament and despair as we look around at all the ways that injustice is ruling in our world right now. But this is not new. The hope of that little baby is still true. The hope that the humble will be exalted and that the hungry will be filled with good things and that those who oppress will be sent away empty.

[00:04:51] So this Advent season I hope that you can look for those glimmers of hope. For those unexpected ways that the truth and the promise of the Kingdom of God is still showing up in your life.

[00:05:03] Whether It's your hope for this world in general or other hopes that you have. I know that you have hopes that extend beyond your Christmas list. That going into the new year there's still going to be big desires in your heart, desires for restoration in relationships, desires for pain to leave your body, desires for things to be a little bit easier, and for good things to happen instead of despair and pain. Those are all good and valid hopes.

[00:05:39] And my prayer for you is that you will find the ways that it shows up unexpectedly in a little bit of a different package and that you'll cling to that promise. That It will be a sign unto you that God is still in this world. That a baby showed up and changed everything and that we have reason to hope when all is hopeless.

[00:06:00] Blessings to you.

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