Advent Sunday Evening Prayer: Hope.

Holy One, make speed to save us:
O God, come quickly to help us.

Glory to God, Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.


Sundays: From Psalm 25 Ad te, Domine, levavi

To you, O Lord, * I lift up my soul;
Show me your ways, O Lord, * and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
Gracious and upright are you, O Lord; *
therefore you teach sinners in your way.
You guide the humble in doing right * and teach your way to the lowly.
O Lord, all your paths are love and faithfulness *
to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies.
Protect my life and deliver me; *
let me not be put to shame, for I have trusted in you.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.

Reflection: O come, O come, Emmanuel

This plaintive cry for God to be with us, lies at the heart of Advent. It’s what links us back to the earliest stories of God’s People as well as to the followers of Jesus. People are always waiting for God. 

The Hebrew for waiting, in an Advent way, is qavah. It’s related to the Hebrew word qav, which means “cord.” When you pull a cord tight, you produce a state of tension until there’s release. That’s qavah: the feeling of tension and expectation while you wait for something to happen.

In Advent we consciously choose to hope, to qavah God with us. It’s as if we’re pulling on our end of the cord. This hope is not easy because it is not the same as optimism. Optimism is about choosing to see, in any situation, how circumstances could work out for the best, but biblical hope isn’t focused on circumstances. In fact, hopeful people in the Bible often recognize there’s no evidence things will get better, but you choose hope anyway. 

The earliest followers of Jesus believed that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was God’s surprising response to our enslavement by evil and death. The empty tomb opened up a new door of hope, and they used the Greek word elpis to describe this anticipation. The apostles believed that what happened to Jesus in the resurrection was a foretaste of what God had planned for the whole universe. In Paul’s words, it’s a “hope that creation itself will be liberated from slavery to corruption into freedom when God’s children are glorified.”

So Christian hope is bold, waiting for humanity and the whole universe to be rescued from evil and death. Some would say it’s crazy, and maybe it is. But biblical hope isn’t optimism based on odds; it’s a choice to wait for God to bring about a future that’s as surprising as a crucified man rising from the dead. Christian hope looks back to the risen Jesus in order to look forward. So we pull on our end of the cord as we wait.

How will you make yourself conscious of your waiting this Advent? How will you remind yourself to hope for God to be with us in a new creation?

A traditional method is to pray with your body, by fasting. The practice offers you a physical reminder to hope. I was introduced to this whilst living amongst Orthodox Christians, who follow a pattern of fasting designed to make you think about your diet each day, encouraging thankfulness and prayer. If you would like to join in this Advent, you can follow the symbols found on each day’s post:


1 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,*
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
2 for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant;*
from this day all generations will call me blessed.
3 The Almighty has done great things for me* and holy is his name.
4 He has mercy on those who fear him* in every generation.
5 He has shown the strength of his arm;*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
6 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones*
and has lifted up the lowly.
7 He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
8 He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
9 the promise he made to our forebears,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.

We have been afraid of the fierceness of your love, which sears our hearts as with a laser. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We have refused to believe that you are gentle in judgment, that your hands loosen the knots of our bitterness. Christ, have mercy upon us.
We have failed to see that your eyes are wise in discernment, that your justice restores us and heals. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Stir up your power, Lord, and come: that, with you as our protector, we may be rescued from our sins; and with you as our deliverer, we may be set free; for you live and reign with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 Lord God almighty, come and dispel the darkness from our hearts, that in the radiance of your brightness we may know you, the only unfading light, glorious in all eternity. Amen.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing:
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A priest and poet in the Scottish Episcopal Church, exploring the workings of the Holy Spirit in Banchory .