A Word of Hope: Advent Devotional Week 1
I’ll go out on a limb and say that many of us probably separate the “Christmas hope” we find in December from that which we hold onto throughout the year. In a few days, the calendar page will turn; we’ll dig out the old nativity set and dust off the Bible pages referencing the “birth of Christ,” not forgetting, but perhaps compartmentalizing the child in a manger (so small and precious), from the King of Kings (eternal and omnipotent). That Immanuel, the “God with us” (Isaiah 7), would face every trial and temptation, bear the weight of sin and death on a cross, rise again in victory, and ascend to the right hand of God to prepare a place for us when we leave these earthly bodies.
Perhaps we could learn to treat the Advent season as something more than the “final chapter” in our calendar year. I’m sure we’re all aching for 2020 to come to an end; the lack of “normalcy,” the constant changes, the aftershocks and pains of all the months that feel robbed right out from under us. It would be far too easy to shrug our shoulders at Christmas and wait for some real hope to arrive as we cautiously yell “happy new year!” But, we (Christians) aren’t meant to operate that way. We find our greatest hope IN this season- IN the birth of Jesus Christ- HERE and NOW, even in the wake of what feels like an endlessly dreadful year.
I’ve lived in the same limbo as many of you. I was involuntarily “off” from my full-time job for much of the spring and summer. I went the longest without seeing my family (in person) since I did when I was away at college in the early 2000s. The truest form of social interaction I had (apart from that with my lovely wife) was with the handful of folks I served with on Sunday mornings, and I cherished it as we all learned what it meant to lead services like something of a newscast. Here we are now, in what feels like a marginally better place and yet, so much anxiety, division and uncertainty still exists. I asked the Lord for some direction as I sat down to write this. “What is hope to me right now, Lord?” And He gave me a scripture.
“I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him…” Lamentations 3:24-25
I want God to reveal more of His goodness to me. I want the hope I find this Christmas to spill over into the rest of my year. I want a more focused faith perspective; a December that marks the beginning of hope for the new year- the day to day- the minuscule moments and in the thick of great turmoil. The Lord is all I truly need. He is my greatest lot and portion. Because of this, I will wait for him, that baby in the manger, the Lamb of God, the Risen Savior and the coming King. I suppose that in a roundabout way I answered my own question. Love that came as the Christmas child led to the Spirit that lives in me now. My true hope lies in this. Merry Christmas!