In the wilderness God’s salvation comes to a broken people. In the midst of what is seemingly an impossible situation, hope emerges with vigour. In this context, hope is an openness to surprise, the surprise that God is in no way limited to the imaginings of human minds and the consequences of human history. This is the kind of hope that is proclaimed in the wilderness by John; it is the kind of hope that trusts that from the impossible, God can work a new creation and inspire broken-hearted people. The contrite heart is a broken heart, an emptied-out heart, a hope-filled heart. It is a heart that is unencumbered by the past and that lives currently in the passing of time and the fragility of being alive. The contrite, broken heart can be filled only by what is promised in the future. This is the paradox of Advent. In the middle of the wilderness, God works the impossible in those whose hearts are ready for the surprise of hope.