A subversive Advent with gritty hope

It's Advent and you can buy special calendars that reward you with chocolates just for waking up for another day.  Or if you are over the legal age, you can get a wine advent calendar.  I suspect you can get just about any kind of calendar you want if you search long enough.  But what if I don't want stuff to put in my mouth?  What if I want to be subversive about Advent, filling my heart and mind with hope, joy, peace and love?

I confess, I was sitting in church, listening or I should say - hearing - the preacher talk, when I landed on the idea of a Subversive Advent Series.  Christmas as a sacred tradition has fallen out of favour and is on the fast track to becoming politically incorrect in Canada.  I have struggled with that.  We no longer know if it's okay to wish our friends a Merry Christmas because someone somewhere has suggested we might offend.  I wondered how I'd feel if my Jewish friend wished me a Happy Hanukkah or my Muslim friend bestowed Ramadan greetings on me.  Fact is, I'd be delighted, not offended in the least.

The exchange of greetings and blessings on one another generates hope, and we all need a dose of hope.  We don't need the sweet optimistic naive kind of hope that simply wants positive outcomes.  Life is more complicated than that.  We need a gritty hope that takes us beyond the dopamine high of dark chocolate from an Advent calendar. We long for gritty hope that doesn't leave us with a hangover if we have over-indulged.

Gritty hope might be subversive.  It steers clear of the cliches of Christmas and pat answers from Christendom.  Gritty hope is the opposite of fear, doubt, distrust, negativity and faithlessness, which means it runs completely against the mainstream right now.  Humans universally struggle with the opposite of hope every single day.  Even the most hopeful person struggles.  But gritty hope is like a muscle.  We need to exercise our hope, feed ourselves the right hope diet, and rest in hope.

What if we all, every faith-tradition, decided to freely and lovingly bestow our greetings and blessings on our friends?  Might that be a good way to begin to build our gritty hope?  It would mean ignoring the fear of offending in favour of trusting others ability to accept greetings offered in love.  When we offer a greeting or blessing to someone else we overcome our doubt about the value of sharing who we really are and what we truly believe, if only for that moment.  In that simple exchange we demonstrate trust in one another, and embrace a positive perspective of those we are greeting or blessing.  Gritty hope demands we trust our friends are not going to reject the gift of sharing our faith whatever that may be.  Through the exchange of a greeting or blessing we displace negativity and political correctness, in favour of a declaration grounded in faith, love, and hope.

Fear is rampant and distrust is its companion; if we want to overcome the negativity and doubt that feeds, we must develop and exercise gritty hope.  I'd love to have some companions join me on my subversive Advent journey.  You have seven days to think on and exercise your gritty hope.  My Advent prayer is that you go forth and revel in your gritty hope this week.