Advent: Hope (Marc Hughes)

The Christmas season is here once again. At this time every year the church as a whole has practiced a tradition called advent.

The word Advent means anticipation of Arrival, or the coming of something/ someone important. Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas and at this time we celebrate by thanking God for Christ's first coming and we set our sights on Him in preparation and anticipation of his final coming.

Advent is a time of reflecting on what God has done and looking forward to what He will do

Each of the four Sundays before Christmas has a specific theme to it that we focus on for that week. The first theme, the one we will be discussing today, is Hope.

When we reflect on Jesus’ first coming, we can remember the hope Jesus brought and what that meant for the world. Firstly Jesus’ birth was a major fulfillment of centuries of prophecy.

The people living before Jesus looked forward in hope to a coming messiah and Jesus’ birth signified the fulfilling of that promise. Here is one of many of such prophecies.

“The people walking in darkness

    have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of deep darkness

    a light has dawned. […]

For to us a child is born,

    to us a son is given,

    and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace

    there will be no end.

(Isaiah 9:2 and 9:6, NIV)

The Jews waited for centuries with hope for the coming of the messiah and Jesus was the fulfillment of this ancient prophecy. Jesus first coming set restoration in motion, he came to put an end to the reign of sin and darkness and He did this by bringing the kingdom of God to earth.

We now look forward to the time when Jesus will finish what He started. I love the way Paul explains this : 

21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (Romans 8:21-23, NLT)

We look forward to Jesus coming back and uniting us fully with God once and for all. 

Just as these people looked forward to Jesus’ first coming we now wait in eager expectation for his return. Jesus has promised that He’s coming back again, and when He does He will fully establish His kingdom here on earth and completely defeat sin and darkness once and for all. This is the day that we need to look forward to with eager expectation, the day when we are with Jesus face to face.

As we approach this Christmas, take this time to remember and give thanks for what Jesus has already done and look forward eagerly to what He will do. We know one day Jesus is coming back again and when He does there will be no more pain, no more sadness, no more fighting. Believing this gives you a hope that can get you through every high and low in life, this is a hope that can never be taken away and I pray that you can remember that when you need it most.

If you believe in Him you have this hope.