Advent: The Hope Factory

It was during Advent when I witnessed my first infant Baptism. The season of Advent has powerful imagery for me in the Christian faith I share with so many of my brothers and sisters because it was during this season that I came to the Lutheran Church with my family for the first time. I was at the young age of 12, and my parents had been searching for a new church home.

There are many nicknames for New York City, but one that most people don’t know has to do with my hometown of Brooklyn, one of NYC’s five boroughs. Brooklyn has a nickname of “the borough of churches,” namely because it is home to so many; whether these be impressive gothic style edifices or storefront houses of worship, there are many options. In the city of plenty that never sleeps, our family was church hunting once again.

Witnessing Hope

Purposed presence in the community is vital to spreading the power of God’s love in the urban center. So how did we find the Lutheran church? We did what city people do—we walked down the block toward “the Ave.” Our previous church was one with a big white steeple, so when caught sight of another one, we decided to peek in. Arriving two short blocks later, we saw the pastor baptizing a baby and we heard people singing. This was something I had never seen in my life, and I wanted to know more. It was Advent. We were witnessing hope in the making, as one of God’s children was claimed forever and named forever in the family of God. We as a family witnessed God’s action to bring us into Christ and His Church, and even though it was something new to us, the welcoming community of faith helped us to stay and learn more.

Greater Is Coming

Advent is a time of expectation for followers of Jesus to remember He is coming! He has come to save us all in entirety from the sin that plagues us, and He will come again. Greater is coming. Hope is in the making. God promises in Psalm 121 (also used in the baptismal rite) that He blesses our coming in and our going out for our entire life. Greater is coming because Jesus is involved.

Reminded of the Hope

Songs help to add richness to the Christian faith. It is one of the ways we are blessed, because we have options to hear from a variety of genres the life-giving words of Scripture. Two songs come to mind as suggestions to listen to and reflect on this Advent season as we wait in expectation for the greater that is coming. The first is “Nobody Greater” by VaShawn Mitchell. In the lyrics, he speaks of how no matter how hard we search, we cannot find anyone like our God who compares in grace and mercy. We are grounded in Christ, and we realize even when the world’s problems in our lives seem too big to handle that God is greater than all and will help us through them. The second song is a reflection nearly verbatim on Psalm 121—“My Help” by Jackie Gouche Farris. I was introduced to the song in the choir at the 2001 Cross Cultural Gathering before attending my first National Youth Gathering that same year. The song is one that helps people of all ages to memorize Scripture and also to understand the degree of care our God has for us in this life and the next.

Greater is coming because Jesus is involved. We are made particularly aware of this during the Advent season as we join together in hope, and we are agents of this hope in the world as we navigate moral quandaries in life. This Advent may be a great opportunity to listen to songs that express our faith and enjoy the way cultures intersect to include more and more people in the family of God. May we reminisce on the Baptism of our Lord, our lives, and the expectation for all those to come as brothers and sisters in hope.

Use songs, poems, Scripture passages, artwork, and more to teach the hope of this joyous season.

Sing through Sacred Songs of Christmas

Picture of Deaconess Janine Bolling
Janine Bolling is a Brooklyn-born-and-reared Millennial who is passionate about practical education and connecting people with resources. She works full-time as an admissions recruiter for SUNY, part-time as an adjunct professor of theology at Concordia College New York, and part-time as deaconess at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. The rest of her time is spent in EdD studies at Concordia University Wisconsin in the Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement Program and with family and friends. Janine is a foodie and WILL fight you about why New York pizza is better than all other pizzas.

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