It starts today, the 1st Sunday of Advent.
In the Northern hemisphere Advent always comes at a gloomy time of year, but for Christians this is the start of the Christian Year, a time for new beginnings as we hear again the Bible stories and prophecies about light coming into darkness, hope for those who wait in despair.
In spite of all that has happened so far in 2016 that may increase a sense of gloom, pessimism or fear, how can we enter Advent with hope?
In an age that some people are labelling 'post-truth' what is the truth that can bring hope where there seems little hope?
What truth can bring hope against hope?
What truth brings hope for all people?
Daniel Berrigan (who died this year) gave an answer in his book Testimony: the Word made Flesh:
"It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss --
This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,hunger and poverty, death and destruction --
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever --
This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world --
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers.
This is true: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young shall see visions, and your old shall have dreams.
It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and peace are not meant for this earth and for this history --
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:Jesus Christ -- the Life of the world."
If you need some encouragement today, then watch this beautiful Advent meditation by Christine Sine about waiting for the coming of Christ into the dark places of the world. The music is Christ Child Lullaby played by Jeff Johnson.