1.The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
2.The first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
On the First Sunday of Advent at All Saints Church in Pasadena we lit one candle -- as we always do: the Candle of Hope. But this year -- 2012 -- at All Saints Church we lit one candle for two reasons.
The second part of the definition above was the first reason we lit the Candle of Hope: the first season of the church year leading up to Christmas. And it occurred to me today that the first part of the definition was a second reason: the arrival of a notable event. And that notable event is one filled with Hope -- the 12th Annual Muslim Public Affairs Council convention being held at All Saints church on Dec. 15.
It is a first ever. From the MPAC Convention website:
"All Saints Church is a symbol of ideal religious coexistence and pluralism in America. This year's convention promises to bring our communities together to discuss the important issues we face today involving religious pluralism, violence and bigotry. The future of our country is dependent on work with both the interfaith and civic leaders, now more than ever."
A national Muslim Convention in a Christian Church. Now that's hope we can not just believe in but touch. Feel. Participate in.
Russell continues to expound on the hope, but also the reactions that people have had to All Saints hosting the convention, good and bad. The negative, hateful reactions hurt, but the hope still shines through:
Join us in lighting a Candle of Hope that people of faith not only can but will stand together against polemic and polarization by focusing instead on the mobilization of God's values of love, justice and compassion. Join us in speaking out against Islamophobia with all its hatred and ugliness. And join us in trusting together we truly can turn the human race into the human family and together becoming the hope we are called to be.