First Sunday of Advent: The Candle of Hope

Hello Friends,

It’s official! We have entered into the Christmas countdown period. Every day now we will see it in the newspapers and hear it on the radio and television, “24 shopping days until Christmas,” “23 shopping days until Christmas,” “22 shopping days until Christmas.” All around us there are signs that Christmas is coming. What are some of those signs?

There are plenty of signs that Christmas is coming. This time of year just looks different. Lights up on the rooftop, window displays fill store windows, trees in living rooms, and SUVs with antlers and a red-nosed hood ornament catch our eyes. There are more people serving with the poor, there are more people at local restaurants celebrating, there are more cars in the street and neighborhood because families are visiting. Things look different this time of year because all of creation recognizes that when God put on flesh, everything changed. Let me say that again, “When God put on flesh, everything changed.” There are plenty of signs that Christmas is coming, but 2000 years ago when Jesus was born, there were no big signs to announce that it was going to happen. There were no ads on the radio or TV saying “Coming soon! A Savior will be born in a stable near you!” When Jesus was born, many people were surprised! But as word of his birth spread, some people remembered that prophets had told them that God was going to send a Savior. They knew that this baby, born in a stable, was God keeping His promise.

The Prophet Isaiah famously said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Luke says something similar in his Gospel when the angel appeared to the Shepherds in the field watching their flock by night, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!'” (Luke 2:11-14). God kept His promise and sent us a Savior.

Christmas is a not only a wonderful time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is also a time to remember that Jesus promised that he would come again. Luke notes, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars… At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25a, 27-28). We don’t read much about that in the newspapers and we don’t hear much talk about it on the radio or television, but Jesus told us to be prepared and to watch for his return. Jesus, in his birth, is our hope for tomorrow. We must have hope in Jesus: we must trust him, and love him, and have faith in him. We see this hope in a story about a mean with leprosy.

During the time when Jesus lived upon the earth, leprosy was very wide-spread and was a dreaded disease. When someone had leprosy, they were covered with sores all over their bodies. Unlike chicken pox, these sores didn’t just go away. When someone had leprosy, it was hopeless, because there was no cure. To make matters worse, other people considered them to be unclean and were not allowed to touch them. Many people believed that people who had leprosy got the disease because of some terrible sin they had committed.

One day a man with leprosy came to Jesus. The man knelt down before Jesus and said, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus looked at the man and he felt love and compassion for him. He reached out his hand and touched the man and said, “I am willing, be clean.” Immediately, the leprosy left the man and he was cured.

Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a situation where we are uncomfortable, like when we had the chicken pox. But there may come a time in our lives when we find ourselves in a situation that is truly hopeless. When that happens, where can we turn? How do we find hope in a hopeless situation? We can turn to Jesus. When the situation is hopeless, Jesus is our only hope; and this hope came down from heaven on Christmas day.

As we look forward to Christmas day–paying attention to the signs of Christmas–we also look forward to the day when Jesus will come again, but we must have hope and lean on Jesus whenever we need him. Today we light the candle of hope on our advent wreath. Just as the people of Israel found hope in the promises of God, we find hope in Jesus’ promise that he will come again; and that like the sick man, will have love and compassion for each of us. What does it mean to have hope in Jesus?

Let Us Pray: Heavenly Father, we thank you for keeping your promise to send a Savior. We also thank you for the promise that he will return again to take us to our home in heaven. May we have hope today and every day that you will always be in our life. Amen.

Your Friend, Holy Spirit!

Message inspiration: -and-


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