Advent, from the Latin word adventus meaning “arrival,” is the four – week period prior to Christmas Day when we watch, behold, prepare, and rejoice in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The past year has been seen the increase of world-wide anxiety, stress, hopelessness. We need the Advent focus on hope, joy, peace, and love more than ever. I pray that these devotionals, posted on the four Mondays before Christmas, will help us all focus the arrival of Jesus among us, the proof of God’s love and care for each of us.
THE ARRIVAL OF HOPE (Psalm 16: 8-11; CEB)
I foresaw that the Lord was always with me;
because he is at my right hand I won’t be shaken.
Therefore, my heart was glad
and my tongue rejoiced.
Moreover, my body will live in hope,
because you won’t abandon me to the grave,
nor permit your holy one to experience decay.
You have shown me the paths of life;
your presence will fill me with happiness.
Nothing is more heart wrenching than hopelessness. We are living in a time where finding hope is like digging a six-foot hole with a spoon: we make a little progress and then it all falls in on itself. The entire world is wondering where to turn.
Fortunately, the narrative arc of the Bible mirrors our journey. In the beginning God creates the world and places humans in Eden. These humans disobey. The wider human family spirals downward into immorality. God then assembles a people. They disobey. God bring up prophets. The people don’t listen. Into that world, where the Jews are politically oppressed by the Romans and spiritually oppressed by the religious legalists, hope arrives in the person of Jesus, the Christ, the longed-for Messiah, the Redeemer of human kind. During his life Jesus showed us the kingdom of God and his death and resurrection assured our eternal place in that kingdom.
As we move through the Advent season’s four weeks of expectation, Christians are blessed to know the end of the story. Now is the time to teach that story to our hearts. We don’t have to live in misery and fear and depression; we can live in the hope of the kingdom that Jesus brought to his world and the hope of the eternal kingdom that Jesus brings to our world.
The Psalmist David knew a lot about hopelessness. Like all of us, some of his hopelessness was self-inflicted and some came simply because he lived in an evil and contentious world. David came to peace with it all, as we see in Psalm 16. He testifies that God is always present in our world and in our hearts. We cannot be shaken by the events around us. We can live in hope because we won’t be abandoned. We can live as models for the anxious world because Jesus has shown us how to live hopefully in a hopeless world. That’s the good news of the Advent season.
A final word from Ministry of the Arts:
“Hope is a communal virtue.
Now is the time to be community for each other
– to help carry burdens, to share, to offer hope,
to trust, to love one another.”
For more discussion on hope in this blog, click on the category “Hope Changes Every Thing” in the category list in the right hand margin on the livingasapprentices home page