The season of Advent is a moment of reflection, introspection and harmony with loved ones. In Puerto Rico, we use this time to share with family the good things God has given us during the whole year. We share food, music, parties, plays, candlelight and Christmas lights, as well as “parrandas” which is like Christmas caroling, where we share our local music in homes. Christmas time is the busiest time for our people on the Island of Puerto Rico. The joy everyone feels fills our houses with warmth, but above all, we remember the birth and coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The year 2017 was a year that marked the lives of the Puerto Rican people. We were hit with the forces of hurricane Irma on September 7, followed by hurricane María on September 20th. Both storms left our land in devastation and despair. Hurricane María, a Category 4 storm, left our people without electricity and communication for months. People were overcome with sadness after losing their roofs, houses, relatives and belongings and for the struggles to find food, water, construction supplies, medical help and gas. We certainly did not know how we were going to celebrate Christmas during that time. Nevertheless, in the midst of all the sadness, somewhere on our island, even if a battery or generator powered it, a light started to shine. Our people remembered the reason for the season: the hope that Jesus Christ brought upon us. Our people remembered that we, as latinxs, are characterized by the “fiesta” and by the joy of gathering with our loved ones. In this, we found our strength. Even if it was not the best of seasons, our houses were filled with candles and Christmas lights, and we remember that Jesus was born in our hearts, even when we did not see the end of a tragedy, even in the storm.
That is how we, the latinx people, are characterized in and out of the United States. Even in the midst of a terrible storm, in a political crisis, in social despair, in the resistance, in the face of the fight for our rights and for a righteous system and government - we have the conviction that something better is yet to come. We understand that Jesus was sent to free the captives, bring justice to the oppressed, turn down those who are not fair, and bring us the hope of a better world with him, just as is shared in the scriptures: when He comes for us in the final days. But we should not just wait for His coming, we as young people should act and be the hope among our nation, because the kingdom starts here. You and I are part of that kingdom of justice and hope.
The Advent season reminds us just that, the hope of a good life. The certainty that God is with us and with the ones we love, with our home countries and in the country we live in, and that He takes care of us in everything that we do. But it’s also the hope of a better future knowing that God is in control of what will happen and knowing that the best will come for those who believe in the love of our God. Jesus Is Our Hope. He came to remind us that amidst the chaos that we live and see every day in the news we can never, ever lose hope and that we, as part of his present kingdom, are the hope for those around us too. We should trust that a good year, filled with joy and blessings is just around the corner.
As one of my favorite hymns written in Spanish by the Argentinian Federico Pagura says:
Porque El entró en el mundo y en la historia;
porque El quebró el silencio y la agonía;
porque llenó la tierra de su gloria;
porque fue luz en nuestra noche fría.
Por eso es que hoy tenemos esperanza;
por eso es que hoy luchamos con porfía;
por eso es que hoy miramos con confianza,
el porvenir en esta tierra mía.
Jesus is our light and that is our hope.
Paloma Rodríguez-Rivera is a Puerto Rican Methodist Latina. She has served as a Youth Leader and is currently the Lay Leader of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. She loves science, helping others and fighting for social justice - especially women’s rights and environmental issues.