Advent Daily Devotional: WEEK of HOPE – DAY 5 – Thurs, Dec 2

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? — Psalm 27:1

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Watch the edge of the candle flame. It shifts. Changes color. Jumps and flickers. It seems to be alive.

            In your own body, your heart leaps. Your breath catches. You, too, are alive.

            Writer and researcher Lee Daniel Kravetz suggests that during the urgency of crisis and other life-changing events, we especially seek hope. Such experiences shift ‘our focus to the legacy we’ll leave … It pushes us to ask the question, “What is truly important to me?”’ Extreme circumstances or changes in perspective cause such clarification of our priorities.

            What has become important to you over the past year or more? What, in this season, arises to claim your energy and imagination? Part of hope is channeling your time and resources into those areas of your life that matter the most and offer the greatest sense of purpose.

            Let your flame be fed by what you value above all else. — Rev Gail

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Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. — Jonas Salk

Light must come from inside. You cannot ask the darkness to leave; you must turn on the light. —Sogyal Rinpoche

Advent Daily Devotional: WEEK of HOPE – DAY 4 -Wed, Dec 1

For surely I know the plans I have for you,
says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm,
 to give you a future with hope. —Jeremiah 29:11

Where is the way to the dwelling of light? Job 38:18-20

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This solo candle lifts its presence as a guide. It shines into the season of waiting and preparing. It becomes a companion.

            In day-to-day living, we probably don’t focus on our need for hope. Rather, we seek or rely on hope in times when you struggle.

            Another strategy for cultivating hope, especially when you are experiencing challenges, is to find at least one relationship that remains supportive. Just one.

            At first, people often respond in overwhelming numbers with tangible gestures of kindness in the wake of trauma or loss. Over time, that network of sympathy and outreach slows down. Yet your human need to foster hope is often a long-term approach to whatever situation has troubled or transformed your life. If you have one or more vital connections that continue to be present throughout your journey, this is often enough to cultivate hope.

            Perhaps, on the other hand, you are that significant relationship or form of support for another person. It’s imperative to honor self-care boundaries, so that you maintain your own equilibrium when offering compassion to someone else. Yet realize, even when you set limits, that by caring and showing up consistently for another person, you make a difference. You help foster resilience in another life, as well as your own.

            Maybe, in this Advent season, you receive someone else’s light. Or perhaps you offer your own to another. One way or another, hope burns. — Rev Gail

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Hope can be a powerful force.
Maybe there’s no actual magic in it,
but when you know what you hope for most
and hold it like a light within you,
you can make things happen, almost like magic.
– Laini Taylor

Listen to the inner light; it will guide you.
Listen to the inner peace; it will feed you.
Listen to the inner love; it will transform you.
— Sri Chinmoy

Meditations on hope and resilience for the first Sunday of Advent

Hope begins in the dark … the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You don’t give up. — Anne Lamott

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. — Thomas Merton

SONGS about HOPE:

Blessing of Hope — Jan Richardson
So may we know the hope
that is not just for someday
but for this day—here, now,
in this moment that opens to us:
hope not made of wishes
but of substance,
hope made of sinew
and muscle and bone,
hope that has breath
and a beating heart,
hope that will not keep quiet
and be polite,
hope that knows how to holler when it is called for,
hope that knows how to sing when there seems little cause,
hope that raises us
from the dead—
not someday
but this day,
every day,
again and again and again.

Advent 1: The Parable

In a mother’s womb were two babies.  The first baby asked the other:  “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
      The second baby replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery.  Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
      “Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery.  What would that life be?”
      “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here.  Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.”
      The doubting baby laughed. “This is absurd!  Walking is impossible.  And eat with our mouths?  Ridiculous.  The umbilical cord supplies nutrition.  Life after delivery is to be excluded.  The umbilical cord is too short.”
      The second baby held his ground. “I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here.”
      The first baby replied, “No one has ever come back from there.  Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere.”
      “Well, I don’t know,” said the twin, “but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us.”
       “Mother?” The first baby guffawed. “You believe in mother?  Where is she now?” 
       The second baby calmly and patiently tried to explain. “She is all around us.  It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world.”
       “Hah. I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.”  
        To which the other replied, “Sometimes when you’re in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her.  I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality when it comes….”
 
— Attribution uncertain: According to Wayne Dyer, the original story was told by Henri J. W. Nouwen. Possibly  adapted from the writings of Pablo Molinero. Or penned in 1947 by Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky. Or from the Hungarian writer Útmutató a Léleknek.

The spiritual task of life is to feed hope. Hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within.— Joan Chittister

There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster. ― Dalai Lama XIV
 
Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose. ― Viktor E. Frankl
 
Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality. – Jonas Salk
 

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. – Maya Angelou

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. – Tom Bodett
 
Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough. – Richard M. DeVos

A lot of people have their big dreams and get knocked down and don’t have things go their way. And you never give up hope, and you really just hold on to it. Hard work and perseverance. You just keep getting up and getting up, and then you get that breakthrough.– Robert Kraft

Hope is the dream of a soul awake. — French proverb

Dum spiro, spero: While I breath, I hope. — Latin proverb

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. — Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

IS HOPE ABOUT NOW or TOMORROW, IS IT a HELP or an OBSTACLE?

Grounded hope has two parts. The “grounded” part refers to a realistic understanding of our lives and ourselves. Instead of painting a smiley face over what has happened, we bravely look at reality head-on. Seeing the situation clearly enables us to work toward recovery.
     We cultivate the “hope” part by building confidence in our ability to shape what happens to us next. We start by asking, “Given what’s happened to me, what am I going to do about it? How can I build a better life on top of it?” Then we set goals for ourselves and find sources of motivation to pursue those goals.
      At some point, most of us will face the task of recovering, rebuilding, and rebounding from adversity. Grounded hope can help us not just bounce back, but bounce forward. — Lee Daniel Kravetz, Option B, https://optionb.org/build-resilience/advice/steps-to-grounded-hope

Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us – to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment. We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future, that we will arrive at peace, or the Kingdom of God. Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here…
     Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment. Many religions are based on the notion of hope, and this teaching about refraining from hope may create a strong reaction. But the shock can bring about something important. I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough. Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment. If you re-channel those energies into being aware of what is going on in the present moment, you will be able to make a breakthrough and discover joy and peace right in the present moment, inside of yourself and all around you. — Thich Nhat Hahn, Peace In Every Step

When considered only philosophically, hope, more often than not, seems to be at odds with rational, analytical thinking. But due to its proactive nature, hope in action touches the heart and creates its own validation. A good example of this is found in the philanthropic work of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. In the 2015 Annual Gates Letter he wrote: “Optimism for me isn’t that things will get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better — that whatever suffering we see, no matter how bad it is we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away.” — article from ornishliving.com

Hope is not always comforting or comfortable. Hope asks us to open ourselves to what we do not know, to pray for illumination in this life, to imagine what is beyond our imagining, to bear what seems unbearable. It calls us to keep breathing when beloved lives have left us, to turn toward one another when we might prefer to turn away. Hope draws our eyes and hearts toward a more whole future but propels us also into the present, where Christ waits for us to work with him toward a more whole world now. — Jan Richardson

When God saves people in this life by working through his Spirit to bring them to faith and by leading them to follow Jesus in discipleship, prayer, holiness, hope, and love, such people are designed…to be a sign and foretaste of what God wants to do for the entire cosmos. What’s more, such people are not just to be a sign and foretaste of that ultimate salvation; they are to be part of the means by which God makes this happen both in the present and the future. — NT Wright

Reflections on Advent 1: Hope

Of History and Hope (excerpt) Miller Williams

We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
… But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
…. We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.
… Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free …

Hope: Optimism With a Plan— Ron Breazeale, Psychology Today

  1. First of all, hope is future oriented. …
  2. And secondly, hope is based on a system of belief that you can find a pathway to achieve your goal …
  3. And last of all, hope involves a plan.

Link: A Guide to Grounded Hope Option B


Reflections on Hope

Hope is patience with the lamp lit. — Tertullian

I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe. — Dalai Lama

Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings. — Elie Wiesel

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. — Dale Carnegie

A lot of people have their big dreams and get knocked down and don’t have things go their way. And you never give up hope, and you really just hold on to it. Hard work and perserverance. You just keep getting up and getting up, and then you get that breakthrough. — Robert Kraft

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Where there is no vision, there is no hope. — George Washington Carver

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. — Robert Kennedy

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. — Lewis Smedes

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful. — Marie Curie

On Personal Hopes

My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return. — Maya Angelou

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’. — Erma Bombeck

I have hope in people, in individuals. Because you don’t know what’s going to rise from the ruins. — Joan Baez

On Present Hope

We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds. — Aristotle Onassis

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. — Thich Nhat Hanh

On Future Hope

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. — Nelson Mandela

Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future. — Robert H. Schuller

THIS WEEK at Jackson Community Church Mon, Feb 19- Mon, Feb 26

Note: School Break this week!

 

TUE, FEB 20

  • SMALL GROUP STUDY & REFLECTION
    3:30-4:30pm • Pastor’s Office. Group gathers to study selections from Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Themes of adversity, resilience and joy. Meet in pastor’s office on second floor. Books available to borrow through local libraries as hard copies or downloads (reserved as Jackson Community Church reading group in Jackson library) or for purchase from White Birch Books or as audio books through sites such as Amazon. This group will meet Feb 20, Feb 27, Mar 6. Drop-in participation is welcomed.

WED, FEB 21

  • PASTOR’s DROP-IN
    7-9am • JTown Deli. Come by for caffeine, cuisine, and conversation.
  • PASTOR’s HOURS
    10am-Noon • Jackson Community Church
    Stop by or make an appointment! Rev Gail available to meet.

THURS, FEB 22

  • CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICES
    3:30pm • Yoga with Charlotte Doucette • Parish Hall. $10/pp fee. (Scholarships available)
  • AA
    6-7pm • Church Library
  • SOUP & SKI with FAMILY & FRIENDS
    5pm • Parish Hall of Jackson Community Church
    Gather with members and friends of a few of the valley’s faith communities for soup supper. Menu this week: clam chowder, salad, bread. Please RSVP to church if you can bring loaf of bread, salad, or second crock pot full of soup!
    5:30/6pm •  Meet at church parking lot for evening XC ski. Optimal starting point to be determined. For those who able and interested, if weather permits, come on a ‘night ski’ on Jackson XC Center’s trails. With permission of Jackson Ski Touring Foundation: donations will be collected for Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, but trail passes not required. Bring your own head lamps, ski equipment, layers, and be prepared for outdoor conditions. Ski at your own risk. Bring friends! Open to everyone. All ages welcome.
    Note: We will continue this practice from Feb 22-Mar 22, and will end the Lenten soup series with a Maundy Thursday meal on March 29.

SAT, FEB 24

  • PREPARED to SERVE
    6am (promptly) • Leave from Jackson Community Church.
    8am-4pm • Pembroke Academy, Pembroke, NH. Includes all-day experience with worship, workshops, exhibits, food and fellowship with folks from all over NH. Over 50 different workshops offered on a variety of topics. Jackson Community Church will cover the cost of registration, if you wish to attend. Rev Gail will be going for the day, so car-pooling is possible. Youth are also encouraged to consider attending.
    Topics range from stewardship and youth engagement to social and environmental justice issues and pragmatic ways that the church can address such issues. You can register on the “Day Of” for a fee of $50/person. Please RSVP to the church if you want to attend and have a ride with Rev Gail!

SUN, FEB 25: Lent 2

  • INTERFAITH GATHERING
    8am • Madeline’s Deli, Jackson, NH
    Starts indoors. Reflection & prayer using literature, sacred texts, personal sharing. Continuation of ‘outdoor gathering’ that was affectionately called ‘gazebo church.’
  • BLESSINGS of BODIES, BOOTS n BINDINGS
    9am • Jackson XC Ski Center. On-site blessings for skiers.
  • ADULT CHOIR PRACTICE
    9am • Jackson Community Church
  • WORSHIP: Lent 2
    10:30am • Jackson Community Church 
    Theme: Lent 2

MON, FEB 26

  • PROTESTANT CHAPEL ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING
    4pm • Church Library (2nd Floor)
    See outline of meeting agenda below. All members encouraged to attend.
  • COMMUNITY FORUM on HEALTHCARE
    6pm • Whitney Community Center
  • SCOUTING BLUE & GOLD CEREMONY
    6pm • Parish Hall, Jackson Community Church (closed to public)
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