December 3 – So That We Might Have Hope

By: Rev. Elizabeth Dilley, Minister and Team Leader, Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization (MESA), UCC National

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Parent of our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (from Romans 15:4-13).

The very notion of abolition is a radical concept. When it comes to changes to our policing or incarceration practices, many voices attempt to soften the concept by changing the term to “reform.” “We don’t want police abolition, we just want reform.” But abolition is not reform. Reform means changing outward practices without interrogating the underlying ideals that led to those practices. Abolition means abandoning harmful ideologies of policing and punishment, and reseeding our imaginations for practices like restorative or transformative justice. By clearing away the brush of death-dealing practices and harmful ideologies of crime and punishment, we can replant the soil with life-giving theologies and holy practices of accountability, reparations, forgiveness, and healing. All of this has the power to help us live in harmony with one another and glorify God together.

Words matter. Paul’s letter to the Romans testifies that the scriptures are meant for our encouragement. The scriptures speak of the ways that Jesus’ life spoke a word of hope for God’s people to imagine a just world for all people – a world not marked by tyranny and oppression but by freedom and love. Words matter, and God’s words are meant for healing, not punishment. This Advent, let us abolish all notions otherwise.


Redeeming God, we await your coming
with justice and righteousness,
with healing and mercy.
Root us in your word that births
a “hope not made of wishes but of substance,
hope made of sinew and muscle and bone
so that we might move in the pathways
of restoration not punishment,
of transformation not retribution.
In advent hope we pray.  Amen.


Artwork: “Hope” by Yohana Junker (discover more at:


When something can’t be fixed then the question is what can we build instead. – Mariame Kaba

Take Action

Practicing Abolition Hope

  • Study: Learn more from abolitionist organization Critical Resistance about the distinctions between reform and abolition, especially those changes that move us toward freedom and those that support the system as it is.
  • Pray: Spend some time with the Abolition Lectionary as part of your engagement with scripture.  It provides commentary from members of Christians for the Abolition of Prisons on the assigned readings from the lectionary from an abolitionist lens.
Learn more about reform vs. abolition

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