Re-Awakening Hope – A Poem for Advent One

Christmas trees made of lights
Several large cone-shaped trees with stars on top made out of different colored Christmas lights. Imaged licensed from Envato Elements.

Here is the poem I wrote and shared in worship for the First Sunday in Advent.

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War darkens the world
more than the length of days
violence, gun shots, fear and hatred
echo through our streets
promising only more of the same

It’s easy to lose hope
when every day the weight of worry
grows heavier and heavier still

To escape all of this
I walk my dog – in the woods,
along the river, on the trails,
or on the streets of my neighborhood
where the sidewalks end

I pay attention to the hawks,
the eagles, the deer, the fox
and the owl while my dog
keeps track of every squirrel
and rabbit without fail

Everyone once in a while awe
and beauty ignite hope

Then comes December and
the street lights up – one house
at a time, more each night

The simple electric candles in
windows and dainty white
lights on railings
right next to the inflatable
elves and Santas, helicopters and
mini vans (Santa driven, of course) –
sometimes all in the same yard
with the old-school plastic figures
from Santa and snowmen to the Holy Family
with a too white baby
in the manger too soon
surrounded by plastic sheep and
camels with no lights, shepherds,
choirs of angels, and gift-bearing kings
with paint missing in patches
and sometimes a star that’s
definitely seen better days
Down the road are the giant
bulbs in rainbow colors (the
improper order a bit jarring)
next to lights that drip from
gutters and snowflakes projected
on the siding, swirling next to
blinking over-sided ornaments

Then there’s the house with
all the lights in all the colors
blinking, twinkling, sparkling,
dripping, fading one into another –
a true cacophony of light

We walk by them all, the dog and I,
these simple and fantastic,
sacred and silly – silent
signals that all hope is
not lost

Darkness interrupted by chaotic lights,
disjointed décor from one house to another
boldly proclaims the Light
the Light that shines through all things
in every color, every shape, every rhythm
no matter how chaotic – not
just for December nights,
not just for Christmas this year
or next

These holiday lights – no matter how old,
or how garish – are pleasant, perhaps joyful,
reminders that Hope shines on and on
even when the days are short
and humans hold their weapons
closer than their neighbors

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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