Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23)
This past Sunday marked the end of the church year and thus, the beginning of the Advent season. Advent is a time of purposeful anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Just as Israel waited for the arrival of the Messiah, Christians around the world celebrate the advent season with the sure and certain hope of the arrival of the risen Messiah, as they look forward to, and celebrate, the reality of his birth.
Traditionally, on the first Sunday of advent, the candle symbolizing HOPE is lit at the beginning of a church’s worship service. Some churches refer to it as the prophecy candle, but it makes no difference which it’s called because in the prophecy one finds the Hope of Israel, the coming of a Messiah.
As annual Christmas celebrations have clicked by, I have discovered a change in my hope. When I was young, it was, “I hope I get what I want for Christmas.” As time goes by, my hope now is, “I hope they like what I got them.” It is the smile that erupts from the giving of a well-chosen gift which now blesses me the most on Christmas morning. The joy of seeing a loved one captivated by the thoughtfulness of a gift makes the searching and hiding and time-consuming wrapping of a gift worth every painful moment!
When I think about my journey with Jesus, it reminds me of my Christmas hope. There was a time when I wanted Jesus in my life because of what he did, and would continue to do, for me. “Jesus, thank you for forgiving my sins.” “Jesus, please forgive me again.” “Jesus, please help me pass this test.” “Jesus, please get me out of this mess I’ve made.” As our relationship has grown, so too as the substance of my hope. Oh, I still ask for way more than I need from him, but it’s more important to me now that I bring a smile to Jesus’ lips and a sparkle in his eyes because of something I have done that brings him a chuckle, or shows him my child-like faith in action, than that my life goes the way I want.
Jesus is the most well-chosen gift to the world. The Hope of all ages has come. When we are captivated by Jesus on Christmas morning and on every other day of the year, Jesus knows that every painful moment of his gift-giving was worth it.
Are you captivated by Jesus? How has your hope changed over the years?
Precious Holy Father, thank you for the hope that arises in our hearts at this time of year! As we focus our thoughts and hearts on you, may we see that our only hope is in you. Through you, may we shake off the distractions that bind us as we take time to remember that you are still the hope of the world.