A Portrait of Hope – Advent 1

“Please do not give up hope, there is no reason to lose heart.”

Aung San Suu Kyi, on her release from house arrest, on Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the National League for Democracy, a political party that has worked tirelessly to bring democracy  to a country (Myanmar) that has lived in oppression and fear at the hands of the ruling military junta for decades.  Living under house arrest for over 16 years, Ms. Suu Kyi was released on November 14th, 2010, by her military captors.  The above quote comes from her first speech delivered to her supporters in Rangoon, just hours after her first taste of freedom.  Since her release, the junta has slowly relinquished some of its power and elections have been held.  Aung San Suu Kyi is now back in government and leading the way in democratic reforms.

How was it possible for Aung San Suu Kyi to demonstrate such courage in the face of the ever present danger of death at the hands of her captors?  How did she keep the flame of hope alive when it was constantly being flooded with threats and deprivation?  How did she nurture the dream of freedom when she has experienced so little freedom in her own life?

Aung San Suu Kyi stands with and among a long list of human beings who have put aside their personal goals and dreams to wear the mantle of hope, hope for change in the midst of crushing oppression.  Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Romeo Dallaire, Oscar Romero, Aristotle, Jesus, Joan of Arc, Malala…….and many, many others have become towering figures of hope in the world community.  Even the threat of death was not able to sway Aung San Suu Kyi and the above-named people from their fierce desire to bring freedom and hope to groups of oppressed people.

What is hope?

Hope is such an elusive entity, but it seems to me that hope embraces at least some of the following.

  • Hope is the dream of a world in which all are treated equally and all have equal access to a life of equal opportunity.
  • Hope is the fever that rages and sustains a dream when others seek to destroy that dream.
  • Hope is the audacious belief that goodness can prevail and harmony achieved in a world that is devoted to the procurement of wealth and military power.
  • Hope sustains life when all else in life fails.

It seems to me that this “audacity of hope” (a phrase that comes from a book written by Barack Obama about his life) forms the core of steel that directs the ministry of Jesus.  It was his audacity of hope that brought incredible change to the world in the face of daunting obstacles.  Jesus reminds us of the best of who we are as human beings.

In this Season of Advent when we light candles of hope, peace, joy and love, let us seek to live with an audacity of hope, even as Jesus did.

Blessings in this Advent Season,  Linda

p.s. Read all the other Advent blog posts too:



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