For those not conversant in Latin, the title of this post means “My hope is in God.” Many churches celebrating Advent focused on hope this Sunday as they begin the journey to celebrating Jesus’ birth. We did at my church as well.
This motto (from one of the Masonic groups to which I belong) came to mind this morning. It came as a conviction, an indictment, a confession. To say “my hope is in God” is a very different thing than actually hoping in God. I recognize how little I really do so.
The realization comes from recognizing this morning where my hope lies. Some of it lies in other people – hoping that others will behave differently, hoping for others to make decisions over which I have no control and in which I have no say, hoping for people to see and believe what I cannot make them see or believe. Not surprisingly this often ends in disappointment.
Some of my hope is in institutions, in organizations. While they are composed of people, they also have forces and lives of their own. And if people will disappoint us institutions even more so. Truthfully most organized groups don’t have the ability to respond to the hopes of individuals. Nor, probably, should they.
This thought process leads me to the place where most of my hope really lies – in myself. My hopes for other people are mostly about what I want for them (even when what I want is really for their good, darn it) rather than in what they can or will do. My hopes in institutions are hopes that they will do for me what they may not be designed to do. Or able to do even when they are.
Perhaps worst of all, my hopes in myself have to do with an inflated sense of my abilities and intelligence. I think I can do more than I can in and by myself. I am convinced far too often of my discerning mind and infinite capacity. If I am disappointed in other people and groups, how much more are my self-hopes proven false!
God alone can bear the weight of my hopes. God alone can nurture my hope. God alone can shape my hopes to mirror the divine hope for me, for other people, for institutions, and for the world. As Advent begins, may our hope be in God alone. May Paul’s words about hope prove true in each of us:
“…and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NRSV)