Between Hope and Peace, watch out

Instead of an Advent wreath, I have an Advent box this year, courtesy of some very clever folks at my church who assembled the supplies and invited me to come make one. I wasn’t so sure about “branching out” (pardon the pun), but it’s growing on me (again). There’s an order to my candles. No question about which one to start with. In my culture and language we read left to right, so start on the left. Each week, add a light.

My Advent box

My Advent box


Week one, I start with the candle of Hope. I’m not sure everyone calls the week one candle ‘hope’ but I am, because that’s how I’ve known it and because I think we need to start there. with hope. It recalls to me the one candle lit at the memorial service for my brother, John, just a few years ago. It wasn’t lit ‘for’ him, but it stood burning as we memorialized him. It inspired me to think of the Christians renewing their hope in that week all around the world and to celebrate the hope I had for my brother and now had, in Christ, for him.

Something about a candle and a flame focuses me. It draws my attention and it keeps it. So the lighting of a candle seems just the right thing for a devotional time. But, ever prone to distraction, I have been blessed by a second practice that has invaded my devotional time this year: the spotify Christmas devotional playlist – also created by my clever church compatriots. It’s a pre-selected list of songs from a variety of artists in an array of genres singing Christmas. I pretty much limit myself to one a day because, with those headphones on I could be lost to the world. Today’s selection was Amy Grant, singing Breath of Heaven. 

So today, in week two of Advent, I light the candle of ‘peace’ and listen to the breath of heaven. She sings as Mary, favored by God, to carry a child she doesn’t know if she can carry. The words…

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now

in a world as cold as stone…echoes in my ears. Yes, so much so in Mary’s day and yet in my own. Cold. Dark. In need. And then she sings my prayer…

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

Are you sure God? From the look on my face, are you wondering if you should have chosen better? Someone wiser? But …

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven

Hold me together. Pour over me your holiness. Oh, that sight and sound might lead me to whatever is holy. Whatever is peace. It sounds so nice, doesn’t it, the quiet of a time with God?

But then, in attempting to treat my Advent box like an Advent wreath, I light first the candle of hope and then lift the flame to the next jar to light the candle of peace. Sweet peace. But the greenery between the two catches a spark and flames up. Frantically, I blow and snuff it out, hoping the smoke now rising is a lovely fragrance to God and does not activate my smoke alarm.

But isn’t there truth even in this? Between the hope and the peace, there is a spark. Tiny though it may be, it has the power to ignite and set afire. A power like no other. Not to be played with or taken lightly but to be honored and respected. I have escaped with a simple singeing. I’d be well-advised to treat it as something to behold and carry carefully.

Imagine how you’d feel if you knew the gift you carried was from God Himself. I would certainly start with hope and head directly for peace… and be a bit more careful.


About wlebolt

Life comes at you fast. I like to catch it and toss it back. Or toss it up to see where it lands. I do my best thinking when I'm moving. And my best writing when I am tapping my foot to a beat no one else hears. Kinesthetic to the core.

Posted on December 14, 2013, in Body, Deeper Sensation, Sermon Response and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Another wonderful post, Wendy. You spotlighted a song that has moves me without fail every time I hear it (and I’ve owned Grant’s CD containing that song since 1987ish, so I’ve heard that song hundreds of times). At the time I was living in an apartment in Dale City, having moved to VA from Wyoming. I didn’t know anyone in VA, and that song kept the melancholy away during the Christmas season. It is so moving and profound. So cool that you would blog about it. What a terrific song to put Christmas in proper perspective!

    • God is so wonderfully gentle when we are fragile. I am ever grateful he saw fit to connect us, Judy. Perhaps we will both spend our lives birthing His projects. Can’t think of anything I’d rather do. …offer all I am for the mercy of Your plan… Thanks be.

  2. I absolutely love the idea of an Advent box. It is so much safer than the wreath and seems so much more “together”. As we bring ourselves more into the anticipation, striving to focus on preparation for the wondrous coming, the image of confines of the box seem so appropriate. Thank you for sharing a wonderful post.

  1. Pingback: Between Hope and Peace, Watch Out | Wendy LeBolt | Today I Saw God

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