This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent as we prepare during the next few weeks for the birth of Jesus. Have someone read you Luke 1: 5-25. It’s a little long, but it tells the story of a priest named Zachariah. He and his wife Elizabeth were very old and had been praying to God to let them have a baby for years. One day while Zachariah was doing his priestly duties in the temple, God sent the angel Gabriel to Zachariah to tell him that he and Elizabeth would finally have a son, and they were to name him John. John was going to be great in the sight of the Lord, the angel said. (In fact, you probably know John better as “John the Baptist.” He is the one who was the forerunner of Jesus and baptized Jesus and many others in the Sea of Galilee.) But Zachariah had doubts about what the God told him, so God took away his voice until after the baby John was born.
As Christians, we often speak about the hope that we have in and through Christ. In fact, if your church lights an Advent candle, this week’s candle is the candle of hope. Unlike many things that we “hope” will happen, the hope that we have as Christians is absolutely certain. Whenever God makes a promise, we can be completely certain He will do exactly what He says. In the Old Testament, Isaiah 40:5, God has one of those promises: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” Because God said it, His people could have certain hope that He would do it. Sometimes we forget too. Sometimes we forget the hope we have in God’s promises. When we don’t pray regularly or when we can’t stop worrying about bad things in our lives, we forget that God’s promises give us a certain hope also.
This Advent, God invites us to remember His promises and our hope again. He invites us to remember that our hope in Him is certain because He sent His Son, our Savior, Jesus. God’s promise to Zechariah and Elizabeth was exciting because their son, John, prepared the way for God’s Son, Jesus, to come. John told people to repent and believe in Jesus. By sending John, and then by sending Jesus, God kept His promise that we heard from Isaiah: God did reveal His glory – in giving us His Son, Jesus.
Even though we may sometimes forget God’s promises and our certain hope, Jesus didn’t. He remembered us in everything He did. He prayed for us. He gave us God’s Word. He trusted His Father perfectly, even to the point of dying for us on a cross and rising from the dead three days later. Because Jesus remembered us, we are saved by faith in Him. And on the Last Day, when Jesus returns, we will be with Him forever. That is the Christian hope we have, and it’s a certain hope because Jesus promised. During the next few weeks of this Advent season, think about the hope we all have because of the birth of the baby Jesus.
Let’s say our prayer for the week. Dear Jesus, thank You for being our hope and promise of all things to come. May we not forget to count on You to never leave us and help us always. In Your name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.