Hope of the World
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
(Col: 1:25-29 NRSV)
I have an Advent wreath, I strive to attend to the ordnances of God every day, yet Christmas spirit hasn’t come easy this year. Here it is just one week until Christmas and I am far behind on many of my traditions. Nothing is under the tree. Little is planned. Driving through my hometown of Kenosha the other evening, I saw the Christmas tree atop of "the Spot," a local drive-in hamburger place, open year-round (only in Wisconsin, right? Kenoshans do love their cars and will eat in them even when it is 30-below outside. Kenosha is home to the Rambler, the Javelin, the Gremlin and of course, the Pacer).
Hope filled my heart when I saw the tree atop the Spot. The Spot has been there since July 4, 1945. It was not an easy time to start a restaurant. It is a hard time to be in the restaurant business. Ever since I can remember, the Spot had a Christmas tree on top of their building. In most years, I thought it a bit of an oddity. This year, the sight of the tree made me sing the words penned by Methodist theologian and first female seminary professor, Georgia Harkness, in 1954:
Hope of the world, thou Christ of great compassion:
speak to our fearful hearts by conflict rent.
Save us, your people, from consuming passion,
who by our own false hopes and aims are spent.
Hope of the world, God's gift from highest heaven,
bringing to hungry souls the bread of life:
still let your Spirit unto us be given
to heal earth's wounds and end our bitter strife.
Hope of the world, afoot on dusty highways,
showing to wandering souls the path of light:
walk now beside us lest the tempting byways
lure us away from you to endless night.
Hope of the world, who by your cross did save us
from death and dark despair, from sin and guilt:
we render back the love your mercy gave us;
take now our lives and use them as you will.
Hope of the world, O Christ, o'er death victorious,
who by this sign did conquer grief and pain:
we would be faithful to your gospel glorious;
you are our Lord, and you forever reign!
May Christ Jesus fill us all with a hope to sustain us through the dark days, that we might rise with Him every day to bear his light to the world and shine love and hope on all whom we meet. AMEN.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.