20/20 usually refers to the clarity and sharpness of vision. 2020 AD has provided very little clear and sharp vision!  The losses, pain, grief, unrest, dissension and turmoil have us wishing for this year to end.

How do we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation in 2020? 

This Advent I have been reading a book by Walter Bruggemann, Journey to a Common Good. I have heard Dr. Bruggemann lecture a few times because of his work with an organization committed to creating an alternative economy and also he lives in Cincinnati. I have been impressed with his scholarship and ability to make the scriptures relevant to our experience.

In this reflection I have concentrated on the chapter about Isaiah where Dr. Bruggemann says “I will attempt to read Isaiah as a narrative expose’ and guide for our urban culture that is now centered in a fissure that has evoked deep ideological crisis.” His analysis of Isaiah is complex and provocative. Quotation marks indicate direct quotes from the book. The reflection is mine.

He identifies moments to enter the fissure and hopefully arrive at restoration.

1. Loss Discerned the disappearance of security, certitude and legitimacy.

The lights have gone out in the shining city on the hill.  America has lost its moral compass. Systemic racism, vast income inequality, political paralysis, refusal to welcome refugees, etc. defies our professed ideals and beliefs.

2. Grief Expressed“the break between loss and comfort must be honored…we have not yet made the move to public grief for public loss…loss denied creates social dysfunction and eventually violence”.

We rant and rave, but do we mourn the losses?  The work of grief makes hope credible.

3. HOPE – four aspects “to revive a community of loss and grief”:

a) Newness and SummonsIsaiah 40:3 Clear a path through the wilderness for Yahweh! Make a straight road through the desert for our God!

b) Assurance“the refutation of false gods, the nullification of fear-culminate in an assurance of human agency with transformative power”: Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation who says, ‘Your God reigns’.

c) Contestation – The empire of self-security and control remains strong! “Hope as assurance becomes hope as contestation…”

Representative John Lewis reminds us: “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

d) Departure – Israel departs the empire with song and dance; the departure is not geographical but from violence and anxiety to life lived in an alternative requiring imagination, courage, and staying power.

May 2012 AD be a filled with hope, health and healing of the entire universe and its inhabitants!


At 3 pm on July 20, 1995 the Dominican Sisters of Hope were founded. On July 20, 2019, we began our 25th year since our founding. We declare a YEAR OF HOPE! In celebration, we will share a reflection on the 20th of every month. This is the seventeenth reflection in this series. Read all reflections here.


This reflection was written by

Dominican Sister of Hope Kathleen Hebbeler

Dominican Sister of Hope Kathleen Hebbeler was a community and a long term care nurse in Cincinnati for over 40 years. Sister was the co-founder of Elderly Persons in Community and The Women’s Connection in Cincinnati. She served on the general council and as  president of the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor in Ossining from 1984-1995. She currently lives in Cincinnati.