when advent isn’t about waiting

i’m preparing a meditation for Port Phillip Prison on Thursday night – the first in a series I’m doing there through December.

Last year we focussed the service around the question ‘what are you waiting for?’ – and i realised after getting about 15 seconds into the first service that what we were doing was actually terribly cruel and unhelpful. For many of the men it’s too painful to acknowledge what they’re waiting for, because they know how fragile its possibility is. Instead of that they obsess with the unrealistic dream – dreaming of that won’t hurt them in the same way that believing their lives will be different can.

I think faith is not about trusting that things will be alright in the future, but believing that this moment does not define us or our future… So this year I think we’ll ask the question about how faith changes this moment we’re living in [i like the immediacy that advent provokes: for the future to be changed, this moment must be changed – and we need to be part of that preparation for the birth of hope and love]. So advent will be less a time of waiting and more a time of actively participating in creating a different possibility for life right now.

perhaps, in prison anyway, the faithful question in advent is not ‘what are you waiting for?’ but ‘how do i need to live now for hope to have its birth?’

It’s just turned December
and the air is already thick with promises of love
and words of justice, hope and peace.

But promises can be made easily
by those who do not know the cost of their failure;
who do not know how cruel it is
to have love lie just out of our reach.

So if a promise of love would destroy you this advent
let having faith simply mean this:

we will let the idea of love be possible
and we will live so that one day it is.


  1. Cheryl, absolutely beautiful…I just started being involved in a prison ministry about a year ago. It has given me a whole new understanding of hope.

  2. Stunning in its simplicity, beautiful in its depth; a marvellous post Cheryl. Thank you for re-minding me that love is the gift at the heart of the present moment.

  3. Lucas

    Hey Cheryl,
    thanks for your wisdom. This post has provided me with some great food for my advent reflection. Im toying with that idea that our vision of the future defines how we live the present…

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