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Advent Week 1: Hope

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.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

-Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Hope

The Old Testament chronicles the journey of God’s people. In it, we see a growing desire for the fulfillment of a promise, the arrival of a king that would lead them. This king would be different from all the others and His kingdom would be an everlasting one. The Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one would come from God and begin a revolution that would change the world forever. This would begin a time when God would come to live amongst His people in a new and profound way. We often forget that these were dark times for God’s people. Sin had led to injustice and oppression. They needed to be delivered, but not just from the problems that surrounded them, but from the brokenness that resided in their own hearts. As we prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we can experience the tension of the deep longing and joyful expectation because we know the end of the story.

What we may easily overlook is that Advent is not just a time when we look back but also a time when we look forward. We also live in dark times. Sin still gives birth to brokenness in every sphere of existence. As you study the news cycle you might be tempted to despair, but God’s plan is still working. We don’t yet see the fullness of His kingdom, but we catch glimpses of it as we labor to make Jesus known in our own families, in our city, and around the world. God will make good on His promises and Jesus will, once again, come for His people. This is a time to remind ourselves, not just of the reality of Christ’s incarnation, but also His promise to come again and forever set things right. On that day we will be finished with sin. No more will we carry the heavy burden of living in a sin-sick world where pain and tears seem to often prevail.

If you are like me, you have grown weary from the brokenness within your own hearts. Day after day we are forced to wage war against our flesh and the sin that so easily deceives us. Jesus has dealt with the penalty for our sin, but we still experience its pervasiveness and power. Soon, He will come and remove its presence completely and we will be with Him forever. This is a time to look back. To see God’s promise fulfilled in His coming and to look forward with eager anticipation for His return.

Questions for Reflection

Think of an event in your life where you waited with a longing expectation. What were you waiting for? How did you feel in the waiting? What was it like when the event finally happened?

What are some evidences of the brokenness of this world that you’ve seen this week? How does the return of Christ help reframe the way you see them?

Think about someone you know who might be feeling overcome by darkness. What are some ways you can point them to the hope of Christ’s advent this week?

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