(I’m a little late with this reflection, but I “hope” you can forgive!)
When I was a hospice chaplain I had the priviledge of ministering to many war veterans, I was once told a story about a ship that lay at anchor a few hundred yards offshore Okinawa in the East China Sea. The memory recounted the tropical sun glistening off her battered white superstruction. From her mast a large Red Cross flag waved in the wind. Printed on her bow in large black letters was the name: USS HOPE. It was a Navy Hospital ship, well remembered by many wounded combat veterans of World War II. This ship, unlike other Navy hospital ships, were intended for triage and evacuation. Transporting wounded soldiers after primary care had been given to other ships or bases.
The “Okinawa Operation” in particular was very dangerous arriving just after a bitterly contested battle for the island. Over the following month, the USS HOPE shuttled the wounded from the island to the relative safety of US installations in Saipan. Despite her clear markings and being unarmed, she was attacked many times. I was told of the screams of the wounded and the stoic suffering in silence aboard her decks. To all the wounded, the USS HOPE was more than a name, it was respite from the horrors of war, hope of relief from pain, the gift of healing given by dedicated nurses and doctors, the glimpse of their path home.
Hope is a word heard every day in normal conversation. We so often mistake it with having a wish. We hope to pass a test, get a new job, get a Black Friday deal on a television … but hope, real hope is so much more than wishing for something.
Advent is a time for Christians to reflect upon our true hope. Found in God’s presence with us, God’s Messiah, in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. A real hope we can cling to when pain and difficulty come to each of us, where our agonizing screams and silent sufferings are heard. Where we are known and loved no matter what! A real hope that can empower and embolden us to live a life of sacrifice and service, knowing that this brings pleasure to God! It is my hope that in our Advent waiting, we might be the evidence of God's hope in the world for others.
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” – Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption
I'm a follower of Christ, husband, father, friend, pastor, story teller, asker of questions, inspired by biblical narratives, social justice advocate, sports enthusiast, drinker of over priced coffee and general seeker of God's redemptive possibilities. Yeah, that about covers it. (If you discover something else, let me know!)