Advent: Hope

hope week 1

As we enter the Christmas season we begin the four weeks known as advent

Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom.

The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:*

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

The first week of advent focuses on hope. Hope that we have even in hopeless situations. Hope that came in the form of a baby boy born to Mary and Joseph in a humble manger.

He did not come with great fanfare or endorsement of kings and rulers.  The announcement of His arrival was made not to the rich and powerful but to lowly shepherds in the fields with their flocks, by angels who proclaimed

“Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere. Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough. Luke 2:10-12

Good news of great joy. A message of hope that our world, torn by war, hatred, division and poverty so desperately needs.

As I write this I think of my brothers and sisters throughout the world that are facing great suffering and persecution, some who this year  remained faithful to the testimony of Jesus Christ even unto death.

My heart breaks for the suffering and hopelessness of many, who live in the grip of poverty, addiction, and violence, places where hope is hard to find.

My heart breaks for the little ones whose precious lives were taken, for the defenseless ones who live in abuse and abandonment. For the cries of those no one hears

I pray for my family and the families of others,who do not yet know Him, who have not embraced the hope He offers.

I pray for those who kill, steal, and destroy blinded by great darkness, to the hope that would set them free;

But, I am not hopeless even in the midst of all these things, that tell us our world is not right, yet, and point to what is to come.

Over two thousand years the message of hope rang loud and true, and it rings out still today. We can have hope.

Hope for today. Hope in eternity to come.

He is coming back!

Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams,
a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift.
And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great.
The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders.
His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace.
His leadership will bring such prosperity as you’ve never seen before—
sustainable peace for all time. This child: God’s promise to David—a throne forever, among us, to restore sound leadership that cannot be perverted or shaken. Isaiah 9:6-8

He will ensure justice without fail and absolute equity. Always.

Hope has come and will come again.

His name is Jesus.

*This quote by Justin Holcomb

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