I am working through several different resources during Advent this year. I decided to make more use of this liturgical time than I ever have in my lifetime. I have a book of Advent meditations called Light of the World. This is written by John Timmerman, a professor who teaches English at Calvin College. Anita and I read from this book each morning. Then I have a private book of Advent meditations including Scriptures, prayers and other readings, as well as information about special days in Advent. This is a compilation produced by Liturgy Training Publications, a Roman Catholic resource. It is called An Advent Sourcebook. These are both rich and valuable resources.
The second resource, An Advent Sourcebook, has some material in it for this weekend that includes the following statement from Reinhold Niebuhr, the famous Protestant theologian of the 20th century. Niebuhr wrote:
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.
I love the realism of this quotation. “Nothing worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime.” How true. The older you get the more you come to grips with this reality. I am more energized for life than ever before, living with a deep passion to make a difference for Christ. But I am keenly aware that I cannot achieve what I hope for in my lifetime so I need to be filled with hope. I want to make a difference for Christ, as I am sure many of you do too. But I know I can never achieve my dreams in this world. Advent fills me with abiding and deep hope!