We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.
15 “‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it[a] will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Here it is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is about preparing for the celebration of the coming of the Christ-child and the anticipation of Jesus’ second coming when He shall rule over all the earth.
This first Sunday of Advent is centered on the theme of Hope. We lit the first candle of the Advent Wreath symbolizing the beginning of this season of preparation with Hope. I know there are different ways people name each week of Advent but I’ve always thought that the first week really needs to be about Hope. It is all we really have right now. Hope is what Advent is really all about….hoping for what is to come.
This time of year is filled with people having hope. Kids are hoping Santa will bring them exactly what they want. People are shopping hoping to find just the right present for the special people in their lives. And store owners and manufacturing companies are hoping we will buy their products.
Another type of hope is for families as they gather. Hope that they will see children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles…extended family that they haven’t seen since last Christmas.
Hope comes in different forms. The hopes I listed before are all about hoping for something but not knowing for sure it would happen.
These are all ways the world sees hope, is it different for those whose hope is in the Lord?
In many of the verses in the Bible we can read how people put their hope in the Lord. The Psalmist writes about hope and the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah give hope.
As we move into this Advent season I can’t help but think about Mary and Joseph who confidently put their hope in the promises of God. When Mary is first told she will be with Child, she questions how but when she is told it will be through the power of the Holy Spirit and that nothing is impossible with God, she responds with, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary has a different kind of hope. Her hope is more like a full confidence in his the Lord that if God ordains it – nothing can stop it.
Now that is a completely different kind of hope!!
Where does that kind of hope come from? Mary’s Hope is based on the assurance that God is faithful and His promises are sure and true and God always keeps a promise. I think this is why Mary is seen to be as the Bible states, “highly favored.” She had an unwavering faith in God that gave her a confident hope.
This confident hope can be seen in a 3 year old’s face as they stand at the door watching for their parent to come home from work. A parent tells a child when they leave for work that they promise to be home in time for supper. This gives the child hope and the assurance that as supper is being prepared they can begin to anticipate the return of the parent. How does the child know the parent will truly be home..because the parent promised and over the last 3 years every time they made that promise they came home. This hope is built on experience – the experience that a promise will be kept.
Do we have this kind of Hope in God? God is the ultimate parent who has been faithful to keep His promises and yet do we truly have full confidence that our hope will be fulfilled?
If we don’t, is it because we are unsure as to whether our hopes are from and for God?
Young people are full of hope as they plan their future. They look to the future with excitement and have grand plans and dreams. They set their sights on those goals and move forward with an amazing courage, strength and anticipation. What happens when their hopes are dashed though? Yes – unfortunately – sometimes no matter how we strive to fulfill our hopes and dreams – if they are not ordained by God they often are not achieved.
Proverbs 16:2-3 puts it this way: “All one’s ways may be pure in one’s own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
A confident hope cannot be in our human wants but can only exist in the Lord’s Will. For me this is what is meant when the Angel tells Mary that nothing is impossible with God.
Hope at Advent isn’t about something we want in the world but it is the confidence we have in knowing that Christ was born, died for our sins, was victorious over death and will come again to reign over all the earth! This Advent Hope is why we get all excited about celebrating our Savior’s birth. When we have Advent Hope we are in a sense celebrating the promise of Easter.
Where do you find hope? If you are not sure than I pray that you can look to Advent – the season of anticipating the promise that was fulfilled – the promise that brings us all hope that one day Christ will come again and we will have even more than we ever thought we wanted – in fact we will have all we ever need!