december 1

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Today is day one of my 25 day “advent reflection.” Each day for the next 25, I will  be reflecting on one of the intangible gifts that came to the human race through the birth of Jesus.

Today’s gift… Hope.

Possibly my favorite line of any song I have ever heard, comes from an old Christmas carol called “O Holy night.”

What, you have heard it?

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”

Something about this line stirs my soul. The images that come to mind every time I hear or sing this song give me chills. Not the kind of chills that give you goose bumps for a moment, the kind of chills that feel like they begin deep in the recesses of your soul, slowly making their way to the surface. Goose bumps, hair standing on end, and for me, these kind of chills inevitably result in some kind of wet, salty discharge from the corners of my eyes. I don’t know what it is, maybe its allergies?

I see the exhilaration of a runner in the final pass of an excruciatingly long race, as the finish line comes into view.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

I see the tearful smile on the face of a new mother who has endured 9 months of pregnancy, and a long grueling labor holding her son for the very first time, gazing deeply into his eyes.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

I hear the giggle of a 7 year foster child who just received news that she is being adopted, and will soon have her very own forever family.

A THRILL OF HOPE

I see a Syrian refugee’s face, as he stands on a beach, awaiting the safe arrival of his wife, and 2 children fleeing to America from a land that has brought nothing but fear, pain, and struggle. A boat comes into view, they are aboard.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

Even as I write these words, my eyes fill with tears.

I sense the collective sigh of relief on the lips of an entire race of people who have lived as slaves, wandered in the desert, lived in exile, fought for their place, watched loved ones die at the hands of their enemies, for generations, and generations. They had been promised reconciliation, redemption, belonging and freedom. They were promised that one man would come, and his coming would mark the beginning of their restoration as a people. But they have waited, and waited, clinging to a promise given to them by their ancestors, wondering if it would ever come true. Losing hope, with every passing day.

I sense their weariness… I can feel their hopelessness, confusion and wondering.

Until this baby was born. The Messiah. In a barn, in Bethlehem, in total obscurity.

In that moment, fear was replaced with Hope. And it was… THRILLING!

A THRILL OF HOPE

He was finally doing it! The promise of the Prophet Isaiah was coming to fruition… They could see it, taste it, and feel it. Finally.

A THRILL OF HOPE.

Isaiah 43:19
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

One of the most profoundly powerful outcomes of Advent was the gift of hope restored to a weary people.

Maybe you feel weary… run down, afraid. Maybe you wonder if you will ever feel hopeful again.

The gift of advent is a gift that begins with hope.

“Look at my Servant, Jesus, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”

Jesus didn’t just come to die for you, he came to give you hope. To restore your belief, to make your joy complete in Him. He came to give you life, that is firmly rooted in the hope that only he can offer.

Let the God who’s perfect knowledge means He has no use for hope, restore your hope today.

May you experience this Christmas season…

A THRILL OF HOPE.

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