I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. Psalm 130:5–6
In some of the more traditional churches, advent is celebrated using a wreath of 5 candles: one each lit on the four Sundays before Christmas surrounding a central candle only lit on Christmas Day. Church traditions vary as to the meaning of these candles but certain themes dominate – that of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
Hope is an important focus for us and is often something desperately desired but woefully missing in our world. Sadly, so many confuse real hope with wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is rarely grounded in reality and can easily lead to disappointment or even despair when the wish fails to materialise. Conversely, hope is based upon truth, a real appraisal of circumstances and faith in a higher reality. Hope never simply wishes for things to turn out better – and hope in Jesus can never mean that we are looking forward to some kind of well-being makeover.
The hope of Advent is grounded in what happened 2,000 years ago but focuses on what is going to happen. Not a popular subject in today’s Christianity but, yes, Jesus is coming back and that means God will bring His creation to fulfilment as He promised through Jesus the King and this is our hope of salvation. Hope means we live in the reality of Kingdom now and the promise of future glory, whatever our circumstances!
However hope always bears a cost and that is waiting — waiting for the fulfilment of the promise. This can be frustrating, but faith demands that hope remains firm throughout all this. We are Christians living in a period of waiting but it is a very active waiting — we are not standing in a spiritual bus queue!
We have no idea when Jesus will return but we should live like He is going to at any moment – this was the characteristic of the early church and it marked Christians out with stunning clarity: they lived with a living hope that no one else had. They lived in the truth of God’s Great Grace and as such had a joy that attracted so many to the faith. Is this how we are living in Hong Kong?
Let us practice the Advent hope by:
- Praising God for being our hope, our love, our peace, our life and our destiny; and,
- Asking God to help us live hopeful, graceful and joyful lives to witness to this hopeless, graceless and jaded world that is so desperate for some good news.