Do you sometimes feel that God has left the scene? That God is missing in action? This is what the Hebrews are feeling and lamenting in this Sunday’s Hebrew Scripture reading. They had returned to the Jerusalem area from forced exile around the year 538 BCE. What they found, after 50 or so years of exile, was a destroyed temple and religion. Much belief in the One God had been lost so that “there is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you.” What they need right then is God’s intervention: “Oh that you rend the heavens and come down, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for.” This longing for or expectation of a divine rescuer persisted, and it was this spiritual perspective through which people experienced the prophetic preacher-teacher, Jesus, some 500 years later. In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to keep their own hearts full of expectation, and to not give up hope, to fall asleep. Our hearts are like gates, and hope or expectation keeps those gates open so that the Lord can enter in. Whether it is our own spiritual dryness, or the dark state our world seems to be in, we need to stay hopeful, watching for how God even now is present to us, acting among us. Our image this Sunday is the single Advent candle light, the Light of Christ shining in our personal darkness and that of the world.