This coming Sunday, December 1st, is the start of something special – a special time of the year called Advent. Advent is the four weeks before Christmas when we “get ready” and prepare for Jesus’ birth in that cattle barn in Bethlehem so long ago. The word Advent means getting ready for an event that is about to happen. We use these weeks leading up to Christmas as a chance to think about the arrival of Baby Jesus, who will be our Savior, the Light of the World. At church or even at home, you may light Advent candles, say special prayers, mark off the days on an Advent calendar, and/or sing special songs.
This first week of Advent we will be thinking about Jesus’ birth and “Hope.” Have you ever thought about hope? I know, you “hope” you get what you want for Christmas, or you hope you get a good grade on a test, or you hope you win the big game. But I’m talking about Jesus and His hope for the world and for each one of us.
Jesus’ birth was a promise God gave to us a long, long time ago – a Messiah- that would come and save us from our sins and make a way for us to go to heaven. Jesus was born to fulfill that promise made by God. Because of Jesus, we can be forgiven our mistakes when we do wrong, we can ask Him to help us when we need help, and we can be kind to others like He was. In Jesus, we really even have more than just hope. We have a guarantee – an assurance that we will always have Him with us, and we will always be with Him. The Old Testament called this a covenant.
Psalm 33:20 says, “We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” Think about that verse for a minute. Isn’t that a really great verse to remember? One of these days, we don’t know when, Jesus is coming back to take us all to be with Him, so we wait hopefully for that day. But as we wait, we know that Jesus never leaves us alone. He is our help when we need Him and our shield when we need protection. That is a wonderful promise to always keep in our hearts and minds every day of the year!
I “hope” you get what you want for Christmas, and I hope you get an A on your test, and I hope you win the big game. But you know what else I hope more than anything for you? I hope you know Jesus as your Lord, Savior, and friend. Over the next four weeks, remember to live hopefully for the coming of Christmas and Jesus’ birth. There are a lot of fun things going on between now and Christmas Day, but remember the real reason for the season is Jesus! I “hope’ you have a great week!
Let’s say our prayer. Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to us to be our hope for the future. Help us over the next several weeks, to remember to have fun with all the festivities leading up to Christmas, but also remember that Jesus is the reason we even have Christmas. Let us live “hopefully” in His love and forgiveness every day. In His name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.