Remember waiting for Christmas in eager anticipation? Making a gift list, writing a letter to Santa, secretly looking for hidden presents, shaking the boxes under the tree, trying to stay awake all night on Christmas Eve to catch Santa making his delivery?
Imagine transferring this same excitement to the coming of Christ! We look ahead to Christmas with wonder, reliving the excitement of the birth of the Christ child, miraculously born to a virgin. With great expectation and earnest hope, we are also grateful for our salvation (his coming into our hearts) and eagerly look forward to his final return and the ultimate victory against sin and death.
This is Advent.
We know that on our own we could never be good enough to earn God’s favor, and he knew that, too, and so made it possible for us to be received to him by taking the punishment for our sin upon himself. Now is the perfect time to do some self-reflection, confession, and realignment with the Father’s will for our lives, in preparation of his coming.
This is Advent, too.
Take a little time each day between now and Christmas Eve to ponder the wonder, to live in the moment, to read the Word through the eyes of your inner child (passages referred to below are hyper-linked), prepare your heart for his coming, and you will experience the true intention of Advent. Traditionally, the four weeks leading up to Christmas are spent contemplating hope, peace, joy, and love, and we will follow that pattern here. Let’s try to capture the awe of it all and anticipate the coming of our Lord with hope!
Do you need a dose of hope today (Psalm 42:5)? For months we’ve felt isolated and alone, but we’ve not been abandoned. We’ve been at the mercy of an unknown virus, but we’ve had opportunity to put into real practice the words we’ve said throughout our faith life: I will trust in You, for You are my hope. We’ve been reminded that this life is not all there is, and we’ve been challenged to put our houses (both physical and spiritual) in order.
Hope is a word that’s thrown around lightly but is saturated with deep meaning. It is used in the Bible 180 times and transcends all circumstance by taking us back to the “who” instead of the “what.” Hope says that God has a plan we can’t see with our eyes (Hebrews 11:1), but because He is sovereign, we can trust Him no matter what we go through in this life (Jeremiah 29:11). Even when hope seems to have been dashed (Luke 24:21), his end game is beyond imagination and so worth the wait..
During the first week of Advent, we celebrate this hope. We relive the hope of the long awaited coming of the Messiah. We stand with the shepherds (Luke 2:8-20) and we see the hope in their eyes as they witness their faith story unveiled and unfolding in their own field. We stand outside the empty tomb with Mary (Luke 20:14-18) – confused and very lost – only to be reminded by Jesus himself that he stood before her alive, the embodiment of the hope of the resurrection. We have that same hope! Jesus came to show us the Father (John 14:9), to fulfill the hope of the centuries that the Messiah would one day come and save us (Titus 1:1-2).
We wait in hope of the fulfillment of the end of the epic tale, written by God Himself, including the final battle against sin and death, won by the Lamb of God. He will return and take his rightful place against evil, and peace will come to the world forever (Isaiah 11:6). Because we have seen the promise of hope fulfilled in his birth, death and resurrection, we are well positioned to place our fill hope in him and the promise of his return (Revelation 1:7), at which time he will make all things right.
Does hope feel unattainable? Come back on Thursday!
He is our hope. Rest in him.
I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.
I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27 (NIV)