First Week of Advent – Hope
Mark 1:1-11 & Isaiah 40:1-5
“And his name shall be called Emmanuel – God with us…”
Over the past few years, we seem to have had an especially rough time remembering that God IS with us. It’s far too easy to lose sight of hope in this troubled world. Hope for peace, for the survival of our lovely planet, for voices of sanity in government and politics. Hope for real justice, equity and even basic safety for every person. Hope that there will be anything left for our future generations. Paralyzing thoughts creep in – “Is God with us? Sometimes I can’t tell …”
As I was thinking about this week’s Advent emphasis on hope, it occurred to me that we may have trouble remembering Emmanuel is with us because we don’t always recognize his form. And then I recalled a simple experience I had three or four years ago.
I had stopped into a Dollar Tree store one morning in search of some ribbon of a particular color. I didn’t find the ribbon, but I did run across the perfect little watering can for my houseplants, so I took it to the register. A very pleasant woman rang it up and told me my total was $1.09. I handed her a dollar bill and a dime and told her to keep the penny for someone who might need one at some point.
She smiled and thanked me heartily, saying “You can’t imagine how many people do need even a penny. Yesterday a man came through and when I gave him his total he said, “I don’t have 21 cents.” That’s why I keep change in my pocket. It just breaks my heart. I can’t let someone go without their food because they don’t have 21 cents.” By this time she had tears in her eyes.
I promptly emptied my wallet of the change I had and gave it to her saying, “Here, put this in your pocket. I feel so blessed to meet someone with such a heart of compassion.”
The tears in her eyes spilled over as she thanked me again and dropped the coins into her pocket.
Hope is alive and well because Emmanuel is with us, sometimes disguised as a Dollar Tree clerk with a big loving heart, who keeps change in her pocket in case someone needs it. Emmanuel walks all around us. All we need to do is look.