The Practice of Hope, the Promise of Joy
BY MADDIE LAFORGE | January 11, 2021
For me, God’s presence feels warm at Christmas. When I enter a church during Advent, I leave the warm winter air and enter a space that is warm.
Heaters ticking warm, dry air
That smells like Christmas decorations
And kicks up ancient dust
That makes it extra churchy
Christmas is a time for abundance: the decorations, songs, pageantry, and good company.
This week, Isaiah tells us, “Seek the Lord where he may be found, call him while he is near.” But I’m not finding God in the usual places, and I’m not calling God like I normally would—in my churchy churches or communal celebrations. I don’t feel God’s nearness…This holiday season has felt a little more scarce than abundant.
And yet, we are promised JOY.
You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation
Isaiah reminds me that even when the well runs dry, I keep dropping the bucket.
This is an act of faith and hope in God’s promise. God’s ways and thoughts are not mine; they are much higher. This is not elusive; God isn’t setting some unattainable standard.
I know God. She is not crafty, nor conniving. God offers newness.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.
I know God because She has revealed Herself—and not just to me. God revealed Godself to Abraham, Sarah, Hannah, Moses, David… We have a whole tradition of stories about how God makes good on promises. We call it salvation history.
John reminds us that God did renew the covenant: through water and blood. The Advent season we just experienced is about remembering and celebrating the incarnation. God revealed Godself in a miraculously physical way. God continues to reveal Godself. The covenant is continually made new through the beloved community.
In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments.
The covenant reminds us that we are part of the Holy People.
We are God’s people: hungry, thirsty, without money, beloved.
Because we know God, we trust God.
We trust that we are each beloved
And together a holy people.
The steadfast love of the covenant makes me confident and unafraid. I’ll keep dropping my bucket. I’ll keep practicing hope. I’ll trust God to make good on Her promise of joy.
How will you practice hope this week? What draws you to God’s life-giving water?
Maddie LaForge, M.Div., is a New Orleans native currently residing in Denver, CO. She teaches theology at Regis Jesuit High School. Her love for the classroom goes back to her time as a Jesuit Volunteer at Colegio Miguel Pro in Tacna, Peru. Maddie is a graduate of Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology and Spring Hill College.
A beautiful, thoughtful reflection – hope is alive, God is near – she promised an everlasting covenant, that in the midst of chaos, God is with us. I’ll keep dipping the bucket in the well of hope! Thank you!
In my prayers this week, I will practice hope by thanking God for the many times He reached out to me in times of need. I will offer hope to others by the small things that Ignatian spirituality asks of us. I will offer my assistance in everything I do including a smile or a promise to pray for the person in front of me. I will offer hope by creating a society that has at its focus the Eucharist and all that Holy Communion brings to us. I will offer hope by thanking people for praying with me at Mass as it is through the Body of Christ we become more joyful and hope filled. i will especially ask God to bless the seminarians who are filled with hope in bringing the God news of Jesus Christ as His disciples. May our hope fill our world with the energy and love of all that is new and holy. We ask you this through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Thus wrote Mahatma Gandhi: “God is Light, not darkness. God is Love, not hate. God is truth, not untruth. God alone is great”.
2020 was awful with nothing much to shout about and enjoy. Already this year has started out the same but with the addition of blocking people’s freedom of speech, regardless if you agree or not with what they say.
God, he receives so many calls from us everyday and we either ask or beg for something….are we the selfish ones in reality ?
I already received my joy from God himself, first my wife and then my child, personally I could not be more happier. But I know there are those still waiting for some form of joy, in time it will happen and when it does it’ll be worth the wait.
Thank you for using the feminine pronoun to refer to the Divine Presence.