From Hope to Peace and onto Joy

Street Lights and Bare Trees
Bright street lights illuminate bare trees along a road on a rainy night. Image licensed from Envato Elements.

What has re-awakened within you this Advent Season?


As we move through this short Advent season, I feel more urgency than usual. I’m not entirely sure why, though at least part of it is that Advent is as short as it gets this year with the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve being the same day.

However, I think my sense of urgency has more to do with everything else. These freakishly warm days make we wonder how long our planet will hold. How long do we have left to make the changes we need to make? What hope do we really have?

Of course, there are the wars that never seem to end, no matter how loud or how often we cry for peace. How long do we have left before someone somewhere launches a weapon the devastates human life and the planet we inhabit. Is peace a real possibility, ever?

Then there is the fact that the world acts as if pandemic ended. When, in fact, hospitals are filling up again as case numbers continue to rise. And then to hear people say that only older folx and people with pre-existing conditions are dying. Only?! Where is the joy when there is so much loss?

There’s more, but I’ll stop here. I know I am not alone in my sense of urgency to get to Bethlehem, to survive this spiritual journey, and to know it has made a difference somewhere, anywhere. Maybe you have other factors urging you along.

We began with an invitation to re-awaken to Hope? Did you? Have you? What ignited Hope for you? If not, don’t worry, there is still time; the journey is not over yet. And don’t forget that holding Hope is an act of resistance.

Then we moved onto Peace. Did Peace re-awaken within you? What sparked Peace for you? And again, if nothing has as of yet, there’s time. And remember that creating Peace can lead to revolution.

This week we will journey on into Joy. Remember Joy is deeper, more abiding, than happiness. It is necessary to experience moments of Joy even in these challenging times. To share Joy could kindle rebellion.

As we continue our journey this year, it’s important to be mindful of the contagion and the power of resisting negativity and despair. None of us can do it all the time, nor should we. However, together, as we seek God breaking into the world anew, we bear witness to new possibilities–we embody and/or become the Joy the world needs, the Hope and the Peace, too.

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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5 thoughts on “From Hope to Peace and onto Joy”

  1. It’s Thursday afternoon, I just saved my cat, Abadie, from an attack by the neighbor’s cat – in broad daylight. She kept crying out for help, and I finally heard her over the TV. She’s inside now, snuggled up and sleeping in the big recliner, and I am warmed by the low flames of the fireplace. I read about the women’s group and singing on Christmas, and then read Ann’s encouraging poem and Rachael’s thoughtful reflections on finding peace and joy, even in this complicated world today. I am feeling grateful that I am listening and responding with radical acts of love and mercy. I am still listening and still responding…my choices to feel alive.

  2. We are past Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. I understand why December 25th was chosen to mark Christ’s birthday, but it seems like here in Minnesota or further north, we need some kind of ritual that involves Hope to make it through January and February. Afterall, the ‘Bleak Midwinter’ really gets bleaker in these days.

    You asked what sparked Hope, Peace, Love for us. This week seeing people I had not seen in 20 years sparked both Hope and Love for me. We are otherwise so isolated sometimes that we forget that old friends are still out there.

  3. Holly, thank you for your thoughtful comments. Epiphany is a season that does go through mid-February this year. Maybe we can lean more fully into “knowing the light”?
    Also, glad you were reminded of people who are still there for you!


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