The Powerful Hope of Advent
This past Sunday we celebrated the advent message of hope. Although hope is absolutely central to the Christian faith, I’ll be honest: I far too often underestimate the power of true advent hope.
As I prepared to listen to the sermon on Sunday, I found myself thinking: “This is going to be one of those sermons that’s meant less for me, and more for someone else in the congregation. I don’t really need help with hope. I’ve got enough hope right now.”
I think one of the main reasons I feel “hopeful enough” right now is that the holidays are a hope-filled time for me. The snow is still white and hasn’t turned to gray slush yet, Christmas lights are being hung up around my neighborhood, my heart is being filled by opportunities to see friends and family members who I haven’t seen in a while, and a brand new year is right around the corner!
The holiday season makes it easy for me to be excited about life, and makes me feel like something good is right around the corner. The holidays create in me a positive feeling of general excitement about life, and I call that feeling “hope.”
But is that the same hope that we’re celebrating this advent season? No, it’s actually not.
Now don’t get me wrong, this type of hopefulness isn’t sinful at all. It’s good and glorifying to delight in the little things that each new season brings. The problem, however, is that this hopefulness isn’t strong enough to sustain me through any hard times that might come my way in the future.
I hate to break it to you, but Hallmark lied: if someone I loved got severely hurt, or if I lost my job, getting the perfect Christmas gift under a perfectly decorated tree at a cozy neighborhood Christmas gathering most certainly would not make me feel better about life.
This is where true advent hope comes in: only the hope that Christ offers us is powerful enough to sustain us through the hard times.
Unlike the joy you may feel about baking Christmas cookies and wrapping presents, the hope that advent declares to us isn’t meant to be restricted to the holiday season. Advent hope is a hope that lives and breathes every day of every year. It’s a never-fading, never-ending hope that speaks into every good thing and every hard thing that will ever come our way.
Regardless of how happy, sad, melancholy, or excited the holiday season is currently making you feel, the true hope that’s proclaimed during the advent season is desperately needed by you and sincerely meant for you.
So, as we all continue to think about the message we heard, would you join me and keep your heart open to the idea that there is a bigger hope out there than the one we get from presents, parties, and family traditions? And would you entertain the idea that this powerful hope that Jesus offers to us could be yours?