Advent is a season of anticipation leading up to the birth of the Messiah. It is a season that was borne out of the church’s reflection of the celebration of Christmas in the 5th century. Four major themes are celebrated in this time beginning with the 4th Sunday before Christmas. Each week leading to Christmas, different aspects of the anticipation are called out, Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love. I like to think of them as emotions involved in our anticipation because these four themes express our heartfelt desires which cause us to look forward to the fulfillment of a promise.
The first we’ll look at is Hope. For centuries, God’s people had been told about the coming Messiah. Abraham had been told that through him all the nations on earth would be blessed. Then the prophets made known that through the line of King David the Messiah would come. This gave God’s people hope. There was hope that one day a king would come and rule the earth in such a way that there would be no more wars, no more pain, no more sorrow. The prophet Isaiah said that the one who was to come would be known as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
What is hope? How do we develop hope? No one hopes for darker days, they are already with us and growing darker. Hope comes when we are given a view of better things to come. It comes when we have confidence in the one making the promise. Hope and faith are tightly linked. Hope becomes faith when we have full confidence in the one pointing us to a better time. The Messiah was promised by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through his prophets. The Messiah has come and his birth we celebrate on Christmas Day.
So why is hope still part of the equation? Because Christ, the Messiah, came 2,000 years ago to show God’s heart in human form, and reconcile us with God through his death on the cross. He also confirmed and restated the promise of his return to bring peace to this world torn by war and strife of every kind. He is coming back to rule over this world and restore it to its original intended state! He gave us hope and the only way you can share in that hope is if you have faith that he is who he said he is, that he is God.
So as we celebrate this Christmas season, let’s renew the hope of Christ’s return. Let’s look forward to the day when he will come back to bring joy to the world and peace on earth. Let’s share that hope with those around us, who feel they have little reason to hope.
O come, O come, Immanuel. Immanuel – God with us! We have hope because we have faith in the eternal God who has told us these things.