Hope: An Advent Post

hope 2The word “advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” It is a time in which the church celebrated both the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history.  It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.  That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate.

In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power.  That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people.

So, as the church celebrates God’s inbreaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Historically the Advent season starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. In keeping with this  tradition, we will be posting an Advent post each Sunday from now until Christmas. I pray that you will use this time to push into the story of Jesus and the invasion of God into human history.

Hope

The focus today is on hope. Hope is a powerful concept which by definition means:

  • Noun: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen
  • Verb: want something to happen or be the case.

It is a desire for a certain thing to happen…waiting, patience….hoping….trusting in something you can’t see or yet experience. Hope can keep you going even when things are tough.

Hope for Justice

There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!

It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.  (Romans 8:22-25)

The Hope of a People

The “it” that we patiently wait for is the blessed hope of a new earth and a new heaven – the day when Jesus will come back and restore everything. On that day, justice will be done, things will be set right and pain, evil, sin, death will be destroyed.

Oh what a day that will be!

The Messiah

Sadly there are many ‘messiahs’ in the world today – many people and things, many stars and many passions and concepts that can take our eyes off of the things of God. We are pulled so many directions.

This is why we celebrate the Advent season. We MUST remember that God step into human history. This is what Christmas is about: God becoming man to redeem us from our own sins and the chains of the evil one.

No other religion claims this. True, the Greeks said that their gods came down to earth. Only they came to indulge their own desires. Our God came as a sacrificial lamb to be crucified on a cross so that we might be set free and live.

And since He came once, we know that He will come again! We have been sealed with the Spirit of God, a promise that He will return!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  (Titus 2:11-14)

Advent Prayer

God of the watching ones, give us Your benediction.

God of the waiting ones, give us your good word for our souls

God of the watching ones the slow and the suffering ones, give us Your benediction,

Your good word for our souls that we might rest.

God of the watching ones, the waiting ones, the slow and the suffering ones, 

and the angels in heaven, and the child in the womb, give us your benediction,

your good word for our souls, that we might rest and rise in the kindness of your company.

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