We sometimes wonder whether it is easier to live with some meaning rather than to live without any meaning or purpose at all? Perhaps it is easier to say, ‘there is always someone else worse off than me’ than, ‘well, this is my lot and I had better just get on with it.’

What kind of meaning to live with and how do we share that with others? In what and for what do we hope? In all of the uncertainty that pervades our life at the moment how do we live with unanswered questions?

Look at the world around you and what you see? Are we happy? Where do we go for comfort? Hope is about the creation of meaning, its fresh onset and its coming. Hope is one of the major themes of the season of Advent – those days of preparation running up to our celebration of Christmas. Despite these dark nights there is some reason to hope, to look upwards and into the stars and trust.

We should define hope. Hope has nothing to do with prediction or projection. Hope is sustaining our trust and the quality of our relationships amidst the utter unpredictability of even the most ordinary of lives. Hope can still our hearts and minds and help us to live in the present. Hope can help us to bear our anxieties and insecurities.

Hope has nothing to do with optimism either! Hope requires that we face our fragility, death and vulnerability. Hope is a strenuous expectation of creative newness and meaning in our lives. Hope helps us to live by trust with the tentative, confusing, the fearful bits of the jigsaw that won’t be forced into the framework or picture. Hope is potency. Hope is strenuousness. Hope is energy.

So, as you prepare for Christmas, look for hope in yourself and in others. It can be glimpsed in those people who live openly for goodness – serving and responding to the goodness in others, especially when it seems well hidden. Hope is proclaimed when we seek to listen and understand rather than judge. Hope is nurtured when we choose love over hate, peace over war; when we choose the gaps in our understanding and knowledge rather than the security of wanting always to be right. Hope can enlighten our world when we care amidst the selfishness of complacency.

In these ways we can make a difference. Our world can be made beautiful for God and humanity when you and I live for and in hope.