Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
We are now in the season of Advent, (from the Latin word meaning “coming”), a time to prepare one’s heart both for the Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ (and the salvation He brings), and for the eventual Second Coming of Christ (and the perfect world He will restore). The Advent season lasts for four Sundays beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and ends on Christmas Eve.
Advent decorations traditionally consist of an Advent wreath and four colored candles surrounding a white one in the middle. The candles are lit, one at a time, on successive Sundays leading up to Christmas. The first candle represents “hope” or “expectation.” On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the last candle, the center white one representing Jesus, the Light of the World, is lit.
Also known as the “Prophecy Candle,” the candle of hope assures us that God will fulfill the prophecies declared in the Old Testament about Jesus. Don’t confuse the word ‘hope’ for the secular notion of wishful thinking. Biblical hope is a secure assurance, born of trust placed in an omnipotent and trustworthy God. God has not failed us in the past, and therefore we have a rock-solid hope that He will fulfill His promises about the future. Hope waits and endures until God’s certain promises are completely fulfilled!
Followers of Christ are like the Israelites who experienced hope throughout the Old Testament, especially during the time of the prophets, such as Isaiah. They yearned for a Messiah to save them from their enemies, and ultimately, the greatest enemy: their sin. Like the prophets, we also hope, knowing that Jesus will return soon to completely repair this broken world, and fully eradicate sin from our lives. We patiently and faithfully await the coming of the Messiah in glory to fulfill all God’s promises!
This Advent season, as you long for the return of Jesus to usher in a perfect world, recognize that God’s renovation is already underway. He is making the world new even now through resurrection power among his people. Join Him in His renewing work by setting something right in your neighborhood, and by alleviating human suffering wherever you see it.
And because God has promised to make the world new, no moment of waiting is meaningless. Each passing instant is pregnant with wonder and beauty and glory and joy, both of His ongoing work in the world, and of His imminent appearing. There is meaning and holiness in all waiting. Advent reminds us to take notice, for God is with us and is at work, even in the waiting.
Father, turn our hearts toward you as Christmas approaches. Thank you that every word of Scripture points to the gift of hope that we have because of Christ Jesus. Help us to see that you are with us, both now and forever. Jesus came to give us the gift of eternal life through the salvation that only you, our Heavenly Father, can give when we believe in your Son, repent of our sins, and confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Thank you too, that all the assurances and promises you have given in Scripture will be completely fulfilled beyond all we can imagine, at the Second Advent of Jesus! Amen.
Some songs of hope for worship this Advent season:
- “Joy to the World.“
- “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” JJ Heller https://genius.com/Jj-heller-o-come-o-come-emmanuel-lyrics
- “Those who wait,” Dan Adler https://danandsandyadler.com/track/554452/those-who-wait
- Britannica.com. See https://www.britannica.com/topic/Advent
- Christianity.com. See https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/what-is-the-candle-of-hope-for-advent-week-1.html
- Gotquestions.com. See https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-Advent.html
- The Gospel Coalition. See https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-celebrate-advent/