For some the Second Advent candle is hope. Hope is defined as confidence or expectation and even anticipation. I wanted us to think about our hopes for a few minutes.
Far too many of us have placed our hope in things other than God. For instance we hope going to college will give us that perfect job and that income we want. We hope the job that we are in will provide for not only our needs but our wants and our children’s wants. We hope that woman or man we marry will love us forever and we will live happily ever after. We often hope that the baby we bring into this world will fix our marriage. We hope when we retire we will be able to do whatever we want whenever we want. We put our hope in people and things that often disappoint us and make us lose hope. Where have you placed your hope? Who do you have hope in?
We place our hope in money and soon find it disappoints us because there is never enough of it and its gone long before we are ready for it to be gone. We place our hope in our jobs hoping it will help our self-esteem and we can be all we want to be in our jobs. Then what should happen but a layoff or a closing or a firing. We hope that our health will be perfect and then comes the doctor’s report and our hope for a healthy life is shattered. Our hope is gone much too soon.
We put our hope in things that get broken, whether it is relationships or material possessions. We put our hope in the next big thing that comes along hoping for a bit of happiness. We often miss the thing that can bring us hope.
The three shepherds looked up and saw a star and heard angels proclaim the birth of our King.
“There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” Luke 2:8-18
I wonder what the Shepherds hoped to find following the star? Did they hope to find a king? Did they hope to be led to a palace where trumpets would blow and long lines would be waiting to see this newborn king? Were they hoping to find the baby in a stable behind the inn and in a feeding trough? I don’t know what they were hoping to see, but I do know they weren’t disappointed. They bowed down and worshipped this so called Messiah and Master. They decided that very night to put their hope in this small child and never look back. This small child has never disappointed these shepherds. He has not taken back his love for them and he has not broken his promises. I think they found everything they ever wanted all wrapped up in a blanket and they were at peace. Finally, they found peace that doesn’t come from the world; peace that cannot be explained; peace that only this newborn King can give.
Its Christmas time once more and many of us are hoping for that one perfect gift. We are hoping to give that one perfect gift and hoping it doesn’t cost us too much. We are hoping families will come together and experience peace if for just one day. Why not do as the Shepherds did and follow the star? The star and the Shepherds won’t lead you astray; they won’t lead you down the wrong path. They will lead you to the one you can place your hope in and know it will be secure. You can place your hope in this tiny baby wrapped in a blanket and know he will not disappoint, he will not break and he will not turn away from you. Once you like the Shepherds find this baby you too will fall down on your knees and worship this Messiah. You will be like the Shepherds and want to go tell it on the mountain and shout it to the world that Christ the Newborn King has arrived.
If you are hoping to receive that perfect gift this year then let me lead you to the stable behind the inn wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. That is the perfect gift. You will find the kind of hope you are looking for in that stable; a new kind of hope; one that won’t disappoint.
My prayer for you this week as we think about hope is this: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13New International Version (NIV)
Dear God as we seek to find things and people to put our hope in may we soon be led to the stable. That is the only place to find the kind of hope we are looking for. This hope brings us peace and won’t disappoint us. Our hope is placed in you and you alone. Thank you so much for the hope you have given each of us as we move closer to the birth of your child. Amen