Advent 01 – Hope

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 

He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 

a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 

He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. 

Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 

to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 

I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. 

Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” 

Isaiah 42:1-9
A new thing I now declare!

Happy New Year!

I know, you’re thinking, what the heck has he been smoking! We’ve still got a whole month left in the year! But we have just marked the start of the Christian New Year, which begins today – the first Sunday in Advent. We begin our new year by doing two things – looking back to the first coming of Jesus, as the baby in the manger, and we look forward with expectation and hope, to his second advent, the coming of Christ as the King of all creation. And what a way to start! To think upon the hope and light of the world come into the world. To remember that the Word became flesh, that He made His dwelling among us, and that for us and for our salvation He lived, and died, and rose again and is coming again! This is what we look back on, the beautiful, wonderful, unexplainable story of the Gospel, and we look forward to when He will return.

The theme for this Sunday is Hope. And what a wonderful theme to begin Advent with. The season of waiting is only worth it if we have something to hope for, someone to hope in. Out hope is not the same sort of hope that others have, that things might get better. Our hope is a sure and certain thing, it WILL happen, we need only to wait for it. God is doing a new thing, He is bringing about a new creation, he is reconciling the world to Himself, and when we confess Christ as Lord, then we are confessing that this is going to happen. To say that God is sovereign is to say that His plans will come to pass and nothing can stop them. God has spoken, He has promised, and because of who He is, it will come to pass.

Often at this time of year, we can be tired, we can be worn out, we can start getting a little discouraged, as we hobble to the end of another year, looking with longing towards the holiday period, and seeing in a new year. What a perfect time to look with hope towards our God, the one who has redeemed us, and who has called us, and who will sustain us. This is one of the reasons that I appreciate the Christian Calendar, because it offers me a different message to what the culture around me is speaking. Everything around me is telling me that we are about to enter the most hectic time of the year – have you been to the mall lately? On ‘Black Friday’ in the states there were TWO shootings outside shops, one was over a PARKING SPACE!

I’m so thankful that at this time of year I have the opportunity to pause, and focus on true reality, the fact that Christ has come, He has died, He is risen, and He will come again. This is what our lives are about, this is what sets us apart. This is why we can hope – the God who is faithful has promised, and He will surely do it, He cannot help but fulfil what he has undertaken. So slow down, relax, and focus, not on what you have to buy for people, or what you want people to buy for you, but on celebrating together the fact that Christ has come, our certain hope is that He will come again.

Maranatha!

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