Advent - God is our Hope

 
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Advent - hope

 

If you only have a few minutes, watch this short video on Hope and stick around to read about Advent.

 
 

As I was talking with Kristen about this advent series, she asked if I was going to talk about the Advent Candles that are, sometimes very awkwardly, illuminated during church services. Perhaps one of the best we’ve had the chance to see is when the lighter refused to work, and the family very frustratingly filling the sanctuary with ‘click, click, click…’

I’m sure at that moment there were many hope-filled prayers. “Lord, may the lighter might work as it had done for them in the past.”

Pop-psychology and modern culture talk a lot about hope and optimism and positivity these days. Whether it be attempting to will yourself into a good mood or exhortations to forget the painful past, countless evangelical leaders want their people to experience positivity (and consequently think charisma is a suitable replacement for character). But, as Brenda Salter McNeil reminds us, the change we want to see in the world does not come because we pick the leader we want, the change we want to see in the world comes as a gracious gift from God.

As I began to share about last week, the Jewish community during the time of Christ suffered under Roman occupation in Israel. Previously, the Maccabean leaders were able to overthrow the Greeks (which is the celebration of Hanukkah) and were once again expected a leader to rise up, to do what had been done for them in the past. You see, biblical hope acknowledges God’s movement in your history and calls forth that covenant faithfulness. Hope is not optimism or positivity based on odds, but a willingness, a choice to wait for God.

I think society is right to address this intense need to move toward healing, to experience shalom. But shalom cannot be fabricated, it is the gift God gives us after we process and journey through our lament. Our faithful waiting, our acknowledging of the contributions we made to injustice, but declaring that God will do again as God had done before.

‘click, click, click…’

We need Advent to remind us that God meets with people who are enduring injustice and who boldly declare God’s faithfulness. For examples, see Exodus (the Prince of Egypt is ok), Exile, Maccabees, and Jesus. It makes me wonder what God will do, what we will do regarding more recent events that require hope? The birth of Jesus is the initial steps in the fulfillment of hope but took another 30+ years for that hope to be resolved.

I think about and pray for my brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, at the border in Tijuana from Honduras, Haiti, and numerous other places. I pray for refugees who are still far from home in the Middle East. For victims of violence and disaster. It can be overwhelming to think of all the ways our compassion is aroused. But that is the moment where our character comes in.

When we feel overwhelmed we can quit and pretend like everything is okay, or we and endure the tension and wait for God’s redeeming hope.


Reflect

Consider the following questions to guide your time:

  • What are the areas that you need the illumination of hope?

  • What are the stressors on your family that feel impossible?

  • Consider what God has done for you in your past, and ask God to show up again and patiently, prayerfully, wait.