A season of anticipation
Last Sunday, my family and I began our annual observance of the advent season and lit the first candle of advent––the hope or expectation candle.
Growing up, my view of advent was simply counting down the days until Christmas using a paper chain or a calendar filled with chocolates and other surprises. After the death of our firstborn child, all of the other fun traditions began to diminish in importance (don't get me wrong, I still love a good Christmas movie and building the ultimate gingerbread house) and my husband and I embraced the observance of advent as a yearly tradition.
Advent means coming. It is a time when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and anticipate His return. There were 400 years of silence between the prophets speaking of the coming Messiah and His birth. During this time, God people waited with hope. Today we wait again.
As believers, we await what Paul refers to in Titus 2:11-14 as our "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 lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
Paul explains exactly what this blessed hope is –the appearing of the glory of God and the return of our Savior Jesus Christ, who already made a way for us so that we could have hope. Jesus, who as the passage says, came to redeem us from our sin and to adopt us as sons and daughters. Jesus’ return and our redemption in Him is our greatest and most blessed hope.
Biblical hope is confident. It is faith that God will fulfill everything He has promised and that He is faithful. God never promised that we wouldn’t suffer. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Jesus promised us we would struggle (John 16:33). But we were also promised that God would never leave us or forsake us through any of it. We have been promised the opportunity to experience salvation, deliverance, and an eternity with Jesus.
Today we wait again. Many of us are grieving during this season. Many of us have broken hearts. Many of us feel weary. We wait with hope. We grieve with hope. We rejoice knowing that because of the birth of Jesus--this incredible gift we celebrate on Christmas--and His death and resurrection, we have hope. He came and He is coming again. He is coming to conquer evil and brokenness. He is coming bring justice to the Earth. He is coming to wipe every tear from our weary eyes.
"O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine"
-O Holy Night