May morning after rain

May morning after rain

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Season of Hope

It seemed fitting to return to the Holy Family Shrine near Gretna, Nebraska, on the first Sunday of Advent.

Earlier in the day, we'd watched a family light the first Advent candle at Jill & Eric's church, The Water's Edge, in Omaha.

It was the candle of HOPE. Their pastor, Dr. Craig Finnestad, began his Advent series by preaching on hope. He admits that the story of Mary and Joseph is pretty familiar to people of the church. But he added:

"It may be familiar, but nothing about this story is ordinary. It is a prophetic and powerful story that applies to all of our lives. It is a story about hope. We learn from this story how to get along with others in difficult situations. And we learn to trust God and His ways.

"One day, God looked at the world and knew a better way existed. So He became human and lived as one of us. The world hasn't been the same since. For the optimist, the sad, the exhausted, the young, the old, the sinner, the saint, the poet and the athlete - the only things God really gives us are rest, peace, joy, hope, love, grace, forgiveness, healing and salvation - which is just as well because those are the things the world really needs."

We stopped as we were on our way home, after spending the weekend with Jill & Eric.

On a cold, blustery day in late November, the scenery wasn't as vibrant and colorful as it had been on our first visit in June. But, in some ways, it was more timely as I kept thinking about the message of HOPE as we entered the Advent season.

The symbolism of the mother and child is prevalent at the shrine.

This statue was titled, "Root of Jesse." As a blossom is the glory of a flower, so is Jesus the glory and fulfillment of the line of King David. In the sculpture, Mary and the infant Jesus appear as parts of an abstract flower. The metal folds represent roots, stem and blossom. The roots are planted in the earth, shown as a hemisphere.

The sculpture was inspired by a poem:

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming.
From tender root hath sprung.
Of Jesse's lineage coming.
As men of old hath sung.
It came as a flow'ret bright
Amid the cold of a winter
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah was foretold it
The rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it.
The Virgin Mother kind.
To show God's love a'right
She bore to men a Savior
When half spent was the night.

It was the perfect way to spend an Advent afternoon before a long ride home. There, with my family, the season of Advent truly began anew for me.

And I felt that glimmer of anticipation, separate from the huge to-do list of gifts to buy and goodies to make.

Bring on the season of HOPE!

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