Long, long ago in the creation of the heavens, God reached out a finger and touched one spinning planet, our earth. And God spoke, and spoke, and spoke... one miraculous creation followed another...and God said, “It is good.” And the little planet earth waited breathlessly, expectantly… and God spoke again and said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…” So, God formed man from the dust of the ground and later fashioned woman. And God said, “It is very good”.
Then God said, “But what if these people We have made forget Our love?” And the Son spoke and said, “I will become one of them and live among them and show them how much God loves them and invite them into Our love.” And so it was. And so hope was born.
Hope, I find, is a challenging idea to get my mind around.
Paul has many things to tell us about hope:
"...there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
"Faith is being sure of what we hope for…” Hebrew 11:1
"God is the God of hope” Romans 15:13
"We can rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces
perseverance, perseverance character, and character, hope. And hope does not
disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy
Spirit whom he has given us.” Romans 5 :3-5
Vine’s Dictionary defines hope as “favorable and confident expectation”, with a view to the unseen and the future, recognizing that this happy anticipation of good must be based on who God is.
Hope: what does it mean for you as we enter this season of Advent and count down the days to Christmas eve?
What are you hoping for? Longing for?
Can the answer to your hope, your longing, be found in this tiny baby?
God, who spoke the galaxies into existence,
now silent except for a tiny baby wail.
God, who holds everything together, through whom and for whom everything was made,
now lying in a manger, unable to do anything for himself, vulnerable, totally dependent.
God, whose love knows no boundaries…
does love shine out of those baby eyes?
How could all that the Jewish people longed for be fulfilled in a baby?
Paul, writing to the Galatian Christians, says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son…”
So, the time was right.
But why didn’t he come as a fully grown man, suddenly appearing? Why not riding a white horse, as John saw him in his vision recorded in Revelation, with a sword coming out of his mouth, and those ten thousand angels he once said he could call upon?
Matthew tells us how the people in his hometown questioned how he could be so wise and do miracles. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary? ...and they took offense at Him” (Matthew 13;53-57)
Even John the Baptist, who had been present at His baptism and heard God’s affirmation, later sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11: 2,3)
Jesus, “KING OF THE JEWS”, dying on a cross, forsaken by most of those who loved him.
And then his disciples, after he had risen from the dead, still asking him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)
Jesus of Nazareth,
the Son of God who mostly identified himself as Son of man,
who spoke mainly in parables that we still grapple to understand…
with an agenda they didn’t understand, a kingdom that didn’t look like what they expected or wanted…
So much seems to revolve around expectations…theirs then, ours now.
Are you catching a glimpse of God’s Upside-Down Kingdom?
The kingdom within, where the first will be last, the workers are all paid the same, the wastrel son is welcomed home…
Are you willing to look with new eyes at your ideas about hope?
He came to his own and they didn’t recognize him, didn’t receive him…
And He comes to you and to me today…
Are we able to recognize Him,
to receive Him,
to recover our peace through Him…to feel safe
our joy…to delight in this present moment
our hope…to trust in His presence with us
to let go of our expectations and allow God to be God
whispering His love to us through a newborn baby
and to whisper our love back to him…
Remember how Paul said, “Hope does not disappoint us.”
And why not?
Because God has poured out His love so generously into our hearts.
Can you choose to rest in that love this Advent season, to let go of your expectations, and be still in His presence?
You will not be disappointed.