The Light of Hope
The first candle of Advent is the candle of hope. I would like to share some reflections on hope. My intention is that my words will not only help you celebrate the Advent season, but live the season deeply bring it into the New Year.
We begin with hope, because life so often feels hopeless and without meaning, but the message of God says that in the darkest and bleakest moment hope manifests in the very things Jesus did and does for us. Jesus born in a manger, spent his life with the poor and lost, stood against the powers of this world and spoke truth to tragedy and injustice, he died naked and shivering on a cross to reconcile all of creation to God and calls to all to come back to God. The hope Jesus gives can never be quenched by this world, no matter what this world heaps on us Jesus throws it off and leads us into the love and grace of God, our Father.
Let’s listen to what the bible has to say to us about hope.
2 Corinthians: We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Titus 2: For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 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 who are his very own, eager to do what is good.
The bible points us to an unwavering and boundless hope, not just in the next life, but in this life too. Through Jesus, we have an endless hope in the goodness of life. We are called to live life to its fullest for the glory of God. When I trust Jesus even in my darkest moments I have the power to live and push towards the kind of life I want. I know I am not perfect; I stumble and fall, but I know that I am a better person because of Jesus. Jesus is making me the me I want to be. I want my life and words to point others to the love and grace of God found in Jesus Christ. So, this Christmas let us contemplate the hope of the glory of God. The message of this season is that in the darkest moments of life the light of God shines hope into our lives transforming the most tragic events of our life into blessings from God. This world cannot offer you anything that will ever compare to the hope that is offered through Jesus Christ.
We have reason to hope, even when all seems lost, we have the hope that things well be better and if we remain faithful, we will get through it and no matter how tough life gets life truly is wonderful. Life is good. This realization is not about things or events in my life, but the overall sense that we live in a friendly universe. Bad things exist and happen to us, evil is all too real. Yet, this world is not all bad, pockets of goodness surround us. Someone once said that if we are going through hell to keep going.
C.S. Lewis: “Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else, which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
What does it look like to put flesh on this hope?
At the store I cashier at we have something called ‘The Angel Tree’, which is designed to give a Christmas to children who wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise. One day three girls, I say girls but they were about my age, came through my line. They were purchasing a large amount of girl toys and girl winter wear. One of them excitedly said, “I’m going to take a picture.” She whipped out her smart phone. After clicking a photo, she asked that I put them in a large sack, because they were for ‘The Angel Tree.’ The three of them were giddy; their eyes glimmered with the hope of the season. They were giving to a child they did not know. That brought them closer God. I don’t know why they were doing it. Maybe a whim or because religion told them to, but I like to think that they did it, because the spirit came into their hearts when they saw the tree and the ornaments listing the wish list of this child who was not going to have a Christmas if not for the kindness of strangers. They brought hope to this child. This child who may not know God’s love otherwise was given a gift. A gift that could not and did not need to be repaid, but enjoyed.
That’s what it means to put flesh on the hope of Jesus, the hope of the glory of God. Whether these three girls knew it or not their gesture was bringing a little more of God into our world, I hope those gifts will bring a smile to that child’s face and warmth to her heart and soul.
For hope to mean anything, we must hope in the hopeless. Stephen King: “Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” As Paul writes in Romans 15: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.