03 December 2021
A rural Advent reflection
My prayer for each of us this Advent season, is that we learn to find hope again in our waiting and listening.
Sarah Hulme, Rural Mission and Ministry Officer
As I write this, we’re just entering Advent and the excitement (and busyness) as we approach Christmas will be building. I’ve been pondering how to wait patiently and with endurance (Romans 8:25) this week. There’s lots of things that frustrate and pain me about our current situation; things globally, nationally and even locally, most of which I feel fairly powerless to do anything about. Then I am reminded to pray! Prayer is after all the best starting point for listening, reflecting on our past and present reality, dreaming hopes for the future. It also often leads us to action.
When I’m listening and waiting, I sometimes hear God speaking through the most unexpected things. Most recently whilst watching the three-part series, ‘The Lakes with Simon Reeve'. It has provided a brilliant reminder of my own local rural context, exploring both past and present. In each episode, Simon listens well to local communities, shares their frustrations, empathises with their difficulties and struggles.
The series doesn’t stop there; it also offers hope for the future. We hear from innovative and creative people attempting new things, sharing their vision and hopes of what could be. Ultimately the programme concludes with how these hopes and future plans could challenge and shape our wider county, country and even the world. It’s well worth catching up via iPlayer if it passed you by.
Sometimes I think our rural chapels and Christian communities can feel a similar way – slightly overlooked, too small and worn out, or maybe neglected. Amidst all the real pain and struggle of some of these places, I love hearing people also share their passion and hopes for the future. Waiting and praying expectantly, with hope, may lead to the start of a new chapter in that church’s story.
It will undoubtedly contain a few unexpected plot-twists, but I don’t believe for one second that God doesn’t have a hope-filled future for each of us and our local communities. It may look different from what has been in the past. We may find that we too are changed as a result. My prayer for each of us this Advent season, is that we learn to find hope again in our waiting and listening.
Happy Christmas when it comes,
Sarah Hulme, Rural Mission and Ministry Officer . Find out more about upcoming events on rural mission here.