This week began with our lighting the purple candle representing the Hope of Advent, and in the coming weeks we will focus on Peace, Joy, and Love and light their candles. Sometimes hope eludes us when we look only to our natural circumstances. I know people in our congregation who are struggling with aging parents, spouses who are ill, friends with cancer, their own health, and other worries and griefs. Add to that a polarized nation and nuclear saber rattling, and we sometimes feel that even hope is elusive because the world’s problems are so overwhelming. God’s people have always had times when hope seems hopeless, and that is why Isaiah, who is called the Christmas prophet, wrote 700 years before Christ: to encourage Israel amid the background of the prophecy of war and destruction, darkness and gloom. Isaiah prophesies a glorious coming king, God with us, who heralds a new kingdom that we affirm is with us already but not fully yet. Read Isaiah 9 today! We continue to live in this time between times, yet our faith calls to us and reminds us that God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28). This Advent week, when we focus on hope, let us remember that our hope is in God and in God’s promises, Hope for God’s people has never been defined by circumstances.
Pertaining to hope, this week I read a quote by Robert McAfee Brown, who was a pastor and religion professor at Stanford University. He wrote these words in his autobiography about an old family Christmas photo he included: “There we are all gathered around the creche on Christmas Eve, putting the animals and the wise men and the shepherds around the baby, who is a small center of sanity in a large an crazy world.” So, this is my prayer for you this now-waning first week of Advent: I pray that Jesus continues to be the center of your lives, the center of your hope, and the center of your sanity in this crazy world.
With Great Hope,