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We begin our third year of daily Advent Meditations with this “Open Letter to 2016” by Jenny Tisi — Director of our Children and Youth Choirs.

Dear 2016,

For many of us, you have been quite a ride. For me, personally, I rank you up there with 1980 and 2010. And now that Advent is upon us, I am asking that you go easy on us.

You see, this day, Sunday, November 27th, marks the first Sunday of Advent. This is the season of waiting … the season of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. 2016, I need to tell you that those words are feeling very fairytale-ish in our world right now. I am going to do my very best to look for those moments this season, because instead, I think many of us are feeling this: Despair, Fear, Anger, and Division. It feels like the antithesis of Advent and it is drilling a hole in the pit of my stomach.

2016, I feel the need to plan ahead to find those moments where I can take a break from you and find those 4 principals: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, all while holding the anti-Advent as close as I can without breaking. I know that in holding those feelings together is where healing and great work can come. So in those moments of Despair, I will look for the Hope.

Hope. That’s a tall order, 2016…or is it? Where can I find hope? It’s always right in front of me. Every single week. I can always find it every time I walk into the choir room and see the faces of the children and youth, uniting to make beautiful music. Music and kids. Seriously … what is better remedy for despair than children singing songs? Sometimes, when our kids are not singing, they say things that are so profound and much deeper than I probably thought as a kid.

As one of the youth said the night after the election, “I just feel like our generation is really going to do something really great and we need to hold onto that”, or another youth, upon taking her and other seniors out for breakfast last May, “We are going to do great things!” And I truly believe that when I see our All Saints youth. There is that hope. I have future hope. And I know there is so much here in the present. I just need to break out of the despair and do a better job at focusing on it.

So as you come to a close, 2016, your last month is filled with great opportunity to be surrounded by that hope. For me, it comes from standing in front of the children’s and youth choristers 12 services during this season.

img_9591That’s a lot of times, and my excitement and hope comes directly from connecting with the choristers, the lyrics, and the harmonies in their songs. To stand facing them, them facing me, all while feeling the hope and love from a congregation surrounding us? The energy that comes from parishioners, the staff, and the youth? Well … you can’t steal that from me, 2016. That’s pretty darn awesome!

In closing, as I sit here in the comfort of my own home and type you this letter, 2016, it is time for me to gather up hope and keep it as close as I keep a traditional Santa Mug with Eggnog and fresh nutmeg. I will look for moments of despair and deeply think about how I can have my part in turning them into moments of hope. What can I do to make a difference and promote hope in my community? What can we all do? I know that I have a part in it, and I will look for those moments.

I remain hopeful,