First Sunday in Advent: A prayer for hope in action! This week sees churches across the country light the first candle on their Advent Wreaths. This candle represents the Patriarchs, men like Abraham and David whose lives speak to the hope that God gave them and God’s people. Throughout history God’s people have cried out to Him for divine intervention. Every time we are confronted by injustice, poverty, war, or persecution we plead with God to act in mighty and powerful ways. But, even today as we eagerly anticipate God’s response to our pleas, we know that what ‘will come down’ from heaven will astonish and surprise us. For God’s greatest gift to us is not a powerful warrior who can fulfil our longings for divine retribution but a helpless baby, born in a manger to a poor loving family. God’s answer to our yearnings for justice is embodied in this Holy child who invites us to embrace and cradle the divine hope He represents. This Christmas, God-incarnate will enter our world to ignite our hope and to invite us once again to become agents of His love and justice in our communities, in our cities and in our world. A reason to be hopeful: Sue, an agent of justice Sue, a grandmother in her 50s, had a fairly normal start in life. She got married, had children, but then life started to spiral out of control due to the impact of domestic violence, ill health, and struggles with alcohol. She started attended a project that CUF has supported in Nottingham. After four years there she now volunteers, bringing hope to others by sharing her experience. “I just love what this project does for people. They are there to put people in the right direction. I see people coming through the door in desperation and then they’re going out that little bit lighter. That was me all those years ago. I nearly lost my house so many times, but I didn’t I can count three families that have still got a roof over their head today because they listened to me; but I had to say to them, ‘I’ve been there. It happened to me.’” Be hopeful This story shows us that there is no situation so desperate that God cannot fill us with hope and allow us to put our faith into action. Whatever our concern may be — ending poverty, helping homeless people rebuild their lives, enabling families to get out of debt – Advent hope can ignite our love and give us fresh energy to work for the fulfilment of God’s vision of hope and justice. This week, in the name of God who entered our world to ignite our hope and love for those who are suffering, put your faith in action by supporting our Church Urban Fund projects. Look out for more reflections in the weeks to come.