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Today’s Reflection

WE FOCUS ON HOPE as we light the first candle of the Advent wreath. We pray that the radiance from the candle will enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we will know the hope to which we have been called. (See Ephesians 1:18.) We pray that even in times of deepest darkness, we will have eyes to see how to turn swords into plowshares. Hope is our belief that God can bring beauty amidst brokenness—like a kaleidoscope whose stunning patterns become visible when light shines through the broken pieces of glass contained within.

During Advent, we slow down and let the candle of hope light our way forward. We step faithfully into each new moment because we believe in the promise that the Light of the world is coming and the darkness will not overcome it. Emmanuel dwells among us to share both in our moments of light and our moments of darkness.

We are never alone. There is nowhere we can go and nothing we can do that will ever separate us from God. No matter how dark, lonely, or distant we may feel, we seek to open the eyes of our hearts and claim the hope to which we are called. Hope is the radiant light of God beaming both upon us and within us.

– Sharon Seyfarth Garner
Mandalas, Candles, and Prayer

From pages 23-24 of Mandalas, Candles, and Prayer: A Simply Centered Advent by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. Copyright © 2017 by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

When have you experienced hope? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Psalm 85:10, NRSV

This Week: pray for peace. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Dorothy Day (December 6).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA


{ 23 comments… add one }

  • Louise December 7, 2017, 5:13 am

    I experience hope everyday. As I go through everyday I believe in what the reading today says…”Hope is our belief that God can bring beauty amidst brokenness.” I truly believe this because I see it happen with my kids at school. The brokenness that surrounds some of my kids is unbelieveable. I teach in a public school and we are not suppose to talk about our faith or God. However, I believe that God is so powerful and mighty that without being spoken of He is there. Like today’s reading says…”Hope is the radiant light of God beaming both upon us and within us.” God always finds a way. Today’s reading brings to mind a poem …

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers
    by Emily Dickinson

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all –

    And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
    And sore must be the storm –
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm –

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
    And on the strangest Sea –
    Yet – never – in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb – of me.

    I pray for all here at UR that you will be able to slow down during lent and let the candle of hope light your way forward. I pray for all that struggle mentally, physically, and spiritually. I pray that God will help me to be the best version of myself that I can be today. I pray for peace…our world needs peace.

    • Francesca December 7, 2017, 5:54 am

      I echo your prayer today, Louise. Hope is what enables me to continue teaching. And sometimes I do close my eyes in prayer right when I’m teaching. And when a little face lights up with understanding I know “hope does not disappoint!”

    • Connie December 7, 2017, 8:01 am

      Absolutely love this poem. I still have a card that was sent to me with the first verse on it…..love the rest of the poem, too. Thank you for sharing. Bless you.

  • robert moeller December 7, 2017, 5:50 am

    Before I read your post, Louise, I would have said that I see hope every month, but the reality is that because God is always with us, we see, have hope every moment.

    For most of my teaching career I taught in a public school. While you can’t proselytize, there are hundreds of ways that your faith can shine through. The lamp goes on a stand where all can see it.

    Thank you for your witness and sharing. The poem tells the message very well.Your prayers are all encompassing. As I said to my students, “Bless your heart.”

    • Andrea December 7, 2017, 8:50 am

      Robert, I pray for you, Erich and Anneliese. Such a year of change and challenge. May God’s tender care surround you and them. Thank you for your faithful witness to the UR community. God bless you.

  • Betsy December 7, 2017, 6:51 am

    I echo Louise’s post. Being a retired public school teacher, there were so many ways to minister to the children in my classrooms over the years. In children’s eyes, I saw hope in the most dire of situations. These young people mostly wanted to feel love and validation; things that many didn’t get anywhere else. Teachers can be that hope to many of their students, no matter the age. Hope is like a mustard seed. Thank you for sharing the poem.

  • Lou December 7, 2017, 6:55 am

    I have hope everyday because we are never alone – I do believe that even when I feel very lonely. But as the writer says above nothing can separate us from the love of God. Going through a divorce is a lonely alienating process that hs made me feel alone and unworthy, unwanted and so much more. The only hope that I have clung to is that God loves me and that is all that truly matters.
    Thank you for the prayers you have offered – my son’s interview went very well- he was very happy with it and he will find out within the next two weeks if he gets the position. My middle will be biome in less than a week-which makes us all so happy- the youngest will be so happy to have her sister home. My children obviously bring me so much hope and joy -they are truly gifts from God.
    I live near Chicago. It is so cold today- prayers for all without adequate shelter.
    Peace and Hope to all of you today.

    • Connie December 7, 2017, 8:13 am

      My reply went to Cherie, Lou.

  • Cherie December 7, 2017, 7:36 am

    Louise, thank you so much for the Emily Dickinson poem. I needed that extra comfort. Tomorrow we see another urologist to see if my husband needs his kidney removed. He has been waffleling about this since August. Please pray that this doctor can be the one who helps Ron understand it is needed. I think he is now beginning to hurt so much he will do it. Thank you, for being here. Love and Light!

    • Connie December 7, 2017, 8:08 am

      You are not unworthy or unwanted…and DEFINITELY not alone. You are worthy, wanted, needed and surrounded by love. I live near Chicago, too, and there is snow on the rooftops….brrrrrr.

      • Connie December 7, 2017, 8:12 am

        My reply to Lou went to Cherie….but she is loved also. Praying for her husband.

      • Lou December 8, 2017, 12:32 am

        Thank you Connie -love and warmth to you on this cold Chicago night

    • Lou December 8, 2017, 12:35 am

      Prayers for your husband- God grant him good health.

  • Julie December 7, 2017, 8:09 am

    Thank you Louise for the beautiful poem.
    Praise and thanksgiving for Lou’s good news.
    Prayers for Cherie’s husband and wisdom and acceptance
    Thank you Lou for sharing your location
    I have hope everyday or I literally would be unable to continue
    My fingers have developed sores and they will last until next spring
    My husband berated me over several hours last night
    For those who are new, he and I live togather but have no interaction or communication…usually. Every so often he decides to find issue with my very existence and lets me know everything he hates about me
    I rarely relate any of this because everyone has problems and I prefer to not focus on myself so…
    Blessings and prayers for each and everyone of you

    • Connie December 7, 2017, 8:25 am

      Makes me very sad. Keep your chin up. Focus and prayers on YOU.

    • Lou December 8, 2017, 12:32 am

      Prayers for you Julie- God loves you.

  • Connie December 7, 2017, 8:20 am

    I have a newspaper clipping/”cartoon” taped to my calendar in the kitchen that reads “The World Needs Hope”. On my darkest days, I cling to Hope and Faith and it has been with me over and over.
    “I love you oh Lord, my strength. You are my rock and my fortress and my deliverer”

  • Andrea December 7, 2017, 8:47 am

    My husband ended up in the ER for five hours after his procedure yesterday. Besides extreme pain, he was so weak and ashen. I was afraid I was going to lose him. It helped me to know UR friends prayed for him. We are home now. We live close to Minneapolis, where the sun is shining on a snowy landscape.

    Prayers for hope for all dear UR friends. For your husband, Cherie, and his doctors. May Ron accept the doctors’ recommendations and may it renew his health. Lou and Julie, you are loved and cherished by God, your children, your UR friends. For Marcy, Connie and her husband, Jill and her parents, for teachers. For all who are lonely this Advent season.

    May hope dwell in and shine forth in our hearts. Prayers for those who are hopeless, may they will rest in God’s strong arms with trust. “I have called you by name and you are MINE.” (Isaiah 43.)

    • Lou December 8, 2017, 12:34 am

      Prayers for your husband’s quick recovery.

  • Andrea December 7, 2017, 8:52 am

    Prayers too for Mary, her mother, her students, and for a great transition to her new job. It is a blessing to read her comments.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling December 8, 2017, 5:30 am

      Thanks so much Andrea! You are such an encouragement to me. Everyday, after work, i will visit the upperroom reflection site. By then, i am tired after a long day at work.

      God’s word and all your comments somehow inspire me. Even those who have prayer requests and especially i read those who pray for me. When i read your prayer requests, i am reminded how small my problems are.

      Thank you everyone! You are a blessing to me every day. Even on days when i do not comment, i am so blessed just reading your comments!

  • Carol December 7, 2017, 9:52 am

    My hope in God is a state of being. Not always, my hope was in many things. But to my delight, one day something happened that my hope would jump into. BUT my hope didn’t move…it remained in God only. My hope is now totally in God himself.

  • Eileen December 7, 2017, 11:08 am

    I am enjoying the prayer experience through” Mandalas, Candles and Prayer a simply centered Advent”. The daily guide is helpful to narrow my prayer life and concentrate I’ve shared it with others

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