Advent Candles: Hope
This year, the Luke 14 Blog has decided to take a closer look at the advent candles and how their traditional meaning relates to disabilities and disability ministry. For the first week, Tech Guy Joe Stout dives into the first candle, the Hope candle.
Toward the end of the movie "The Greatest Showman," P.T. Barnum is sitting alone in the ashes of his museum when the critic that has been tearing down his efforts approaches him. Taking a seat next to Barnum, he tells him while he personally does not appreciate the show Barnum has created, drawing his talent from those who had been marginalized and pushed aside by society, another critic might look at it, see the differences in the performers, and call it "a celebration of humanity."
In considering hope as it relates to disability ministry, it struck me that those words are exactly what so much of our work is, a celebration of the inherent humanity in each of our friends with disability. Our hope is that through our work, everyone we come into contact with will join us in our celebration, lifting those with disability from the shadows and bringing them to the table as equals, to celebrate our humanity together. In our celebration, we seek to re-write the story, to tell what our friends are capable of, not what limits them.
Our story and our hope doesn't begin with us bringing our friends to the table, or even in quiet gatherings where we begin to make our plans. It begins with a story two thousand years old, of another group of marginalized and pushed aside people. The nation of Israel had been laboring under the yoke of the Romans for hundreds of years, and their hope was in the coming of the Messiah. God's Messiah would surely strike down their Roman conquerors and elevate their nation to it's rightful place at the head of the table.
As we all know, that's not how it happened. Christ came not as a mighty hero, but as a humble child, placed in a manger, in a small stable behind the Inn. Angels alerted not priests and rulers, but shepherds and wise men. He came not to conquer, but to save, by inviting all of us to His table, to the Heavenly feast of the Lamb of God.
At His table, we will see our friends with disability as we have never seen them before.
We will see them celebrated and made whole, rejoicing in the light of His glory. They will dance, sing, and celebrate in the presence of Christ. Earthly cares and challenges will be cast aside, and the simple joy of uniting in worship will reign.
Until that day comes, until our hope is seen, we will continue to celebrate the humanity of our friends with disability. But our celebrations, both in advent and throughout the year, reflect the light of the Hope Candle, and remind us of our true hope, of a babe in a manger and a celebration of being made whole in the light of His presence.