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Commentary: Hope is the flame that must carry us forward

Commentary: Hope is the flame that must carry us forward

COVID-19 Inclusivity Social Justice


We are more than a month removed from the election, but it is still nearly two months until President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Much like how this year has felt, we once again find ourselves in a season of anticipation and waiting. What will the world and our country look like in January? How many more deaths from this pandemic will we have accumulated? It feels like the feelings of doubt, uncertainty and hopelessness have compounded to result into collective trauma.  

For those of us in the Christian tradition, the presence of this political anticipation is timely as we enter the Season of Advent. It is a time when we can pause and remember the fear and uncertainty that hung in the air when our Messiah was born.

After many months of living in fear from this pandemic, of waiting for a vaccine to come out and now for the upcoming inauguration, the need for hope seems more pronounced now than ever. This longing for hope may also point to deep parallels of our United Methodist Church which has been facing similar struggles of doctrine and law.  

We, as a nation and a UMC community, have been living in a deep state of division and disconnection. Though we may be physically distanced now, we have been emotional and spiritually distanced from each other for much longer.

This presidency has etched a deeper divide in the fabric of our country and our Church has responded by creating a divide within ourselves as we continue to anticipate a potential split within our denomination.   

We are a nation, Church, and people divided. Where do we go from here?  

In this season of uncertainty and darkness, we need healing. We need hope. In these next weeks of Advent and welcoming the new year, there is a need for us as Christian people to find hope and light that can mend the tears in the fabric of who we are. It is my hope that in the days that are ahead, we begin to prepare our hearts to receive hope after what has felt a long and hopeless year.  

It is clear that hope is not brought about by one medical breakthrough or one president, showing that there is work to be done to have a just kingdom here on earth. But the role the Church must play in the coming weeks and months for both the healing from this pandemic and a long history of division is one that is embodied by this Advent season.  

As we look ahead at the future of our country, it is our duty to recognize that regardless of who may be president, the message of the immigrant baby birthed by an unwed teen is clear. We must love our neighbor, care for the sick and the poor, and fight for justice for those who are marginalized and persecuted.

Hope is the flame that must carry us forward as we continue to fight this virus which has taken so much from us already. It is that same hope that will propel us forward in our work of healing and justice for those around us that have had our light diminished. Hope is what can unite even the most fragmented communities. 

It is time for the Church to be a place of fostering hope and imagination for a better world, a world as it ought to be. Join us in leaning into hope for the Advent Season ahead and praying for hope, love, and justice to prevail in the coming weeks as we find ways to move forward as a Church and as a country.

Alejandra Salemi holds a Masters in Public Health and is Certified in Public Health, the mark of a health professional. She may be reached at Alejandra_salemi@hds.harvard.edu


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