Last night was the second of our Advent group for adults. Alongside two of the readings for Sunday we were thinking about hope. We began with this poem by Chris Goan:

A time to plant.

There is a time for all things under heaven…

So here am I
With the little that I have
Seeds only

Vulnerable as chaff in the harsh north wind
Or from the beak of a migrating bird
Hiding tiny turbulences of optimism
Kernals of a Kingdom far beyond my understanding.

And in service of the soil
I reach till the small of my back
Near broke from the cantilever

But for you Lord
I will seek still the narrow place
Between hope
And possibility
Trusting in that miracle of growth
And the harvest to come

For now is the time for us
To plant trees.

The rest of the evening split into 2 sections. To start with we looked at the readings, this one from Baruch:

Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress,
put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever,
wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you,
put the diadem of the glory of the Eternal on your head;
since God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven,
since the name God gives you for ever will be,
” Peace through integrity,and honour through devotedness”,
Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights
And turn your eyes to the east:
see your sons reassembled from west and east
at the command of the Holy One, jubilant that God has remembered them.
Though they left you on foot,
with enemies for an escort,
now God brings them back to you
like royal princes carried back in glory.
For God has decreed the flattening
of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills,
the filling of the valleys, to make the ground level
so that Israel can walk in safety under the glory of God.
And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade
for Israel at the command of God;
for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory
with his mercy and integrity for escort.

And Sunday’s gospel from Luke.

In the second half we looked at these readings from Blessed John Paul II on hope.

“Believers should be called to a renewed appreciation of the theological virtue of hope, which they have already heard proclaimed ‘in the word of the truth, the Gospel (Col 1:5) The basic attitude of hope encourages the Christian not to lose sight of the final goal which gives meaning and value to life, and on the other, offers solid and profound reasons for daily commitment to transform reality in order to make it correspond to God’s plan”

From The Coming of the Third Millenium [Tertio millennio adveniente] No. 46

“There is also a need for a better appreciation and understanding of the signs of hope present in the last part of this century, even though they often remain hidden from our eyes, In society in general, such signs of hope include: scientific, technological and especially medical progress in the service of human life, a greater awareness of our responsibility for the environment, efforts to restore peace and justice wherever they have been violated, a desire for reconciliation and solidarity among different peoples…In the Church, (signs of hope) include a greater attention to the voice of the Spirit through acceptance of charisms and promotion of the laity, a deeper commitment to the cause of Christian unity”

From The Coming of the Third Millenium [Tertio millennio adveniente] No. 46

“The first thing I want to offer you is an invitation to optimism, hope and trust. Certainly, the human race is going through a difficult patch, and we often have a painful impression that the forces of evil, in many manifestations of social life, have got the upper hand…The subtlest temptation afflicting Christians today, especially young people, is precisely that of giving up hope in Christ’s affirmation of victory.”

From Address to Salesian Youth, May 5th 1979.

“Mary, who conceived the Incarnate Word by the power of the Holy Spirit and then in the whole of her life allowed herself to be guided by his interior activity, will be contemplated and imitated during this year above all as a woman who was docile to the voice of the Spirit, a woman of silence and attentiveness, a woman of hope who, like Abraham, accept God’s will, ‘hoping against hope’ (Rom 4:18). Mary gave full expression to the longing of the poor of [The Lord] and is a radiant model for those who entrust themselves with all their hearts to the promise of God”

From Coming of the Third Millenium [Tertio millennio adveniente] No. 46.

To finish our evening we did an Examen using these questions:

What do we sense is beginning to grow in us?
What do we need to do to nurture this?
What, in us, might restrict its growth?

And ended with the Collect for Sunday:

Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen

A reflection on all that was said will go up soon.