Take 5 with Kathy – "Advent meditations…Hope"
|My advent wreath
Today marks the first Sunday of this year’s season of advent. .” For many Christians across the world it is a special way to anticipate celebrating the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We will be lighting the first candle on my wreath, a special custom our family has observed since my son was a little boy. As we look forward to Christmas day, we will light another candle each Sunday and on Christmas day the centre Christ candle will be lit. I love this observance as it helps us keep focused on the true meaning of Christmas. Traditionally, three purple candles, one pink, and one white are used, but I often use four red and a white candle in the centre simply because it is my preference.
Over these next four weeks, I would like to share some meditative thoughts, Scriptures, and a few of my favourite Christmas carols as they relate to the theme of each week’s candle. The first candle is that of “hope”.
Across our world, people are desperate for hope. A homeless person huddles in freezing cold temperatures under the cardboard box he calls home…a grieving mother sobs over the body of her child killed in a missile attack…angry mobs protest against their newly elected leader whom they expected would bring political stability and reform…despondent residents continue to pick up the remaining pieces of their shattered neighborhood following a natural disaster…a frightened teenager finds herself trapped in a life of prostitution…debt-ridden parents wonder how they will explain to their children why they are unable to buy toys this Christmas…abandoned orphans cry in the night for someone to love them…a battered wife and abused children long for relief from their suffering…a mourning husband contemplates his future without his soul mate.
We live in a broken world filled with brokenhearted individuals. They need to know the hope that only Jesus can offer. Isaiah prophesied of Christ’s purpose for coming to earth in chapter 61:1-3, “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” While this prophecy specifically addressed the coming captivity of Israel under the Babylonians, it also prophesied of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the hope He would bring with Him. People still search for that hope today. Who will share it with them? How can I help to meet that need?
Another of Isaiah’s prophecies is quoted in Matthew 12:21, “In His name the nations will put their hope.”
Psalm 65:5 says, “You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.”
Titus 3:4-7 encourages us with these words, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Many verses encourage us to put our hope in God such as Psalm 62:5, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.”
The lyrics of a favourite carol of mine were written by Rector Phillips Brooks:
“O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hopeby the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
On to the
Promises of God