Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of our Savior. Observing advent is a way to keep the focus on the true reason for celebration at Christmas. It is a time to pause and reflect on my own struggle as a sinner in a fallen world and my deep need for God’s grace, forgiveness and love. The birth of Jesus Christ is worthy of great celebration when we are aware of our great need and understand His birth, life, death and resurrection is the only thing that meets that need.
Too often we are blinded in the baubles, bells and bright lights of the holidays and miss the point of it all….you know, like when you host the family for Thanksgiving, celebrate an early Christmas since everyone will be in town, then a few days afterward prepare for extended travel and busy yourself with planning, packing and losing all sense of the passing days as you sip hot cocoa and listen to Christmas tunes…YEP totally me, and the reason I find myself just now (an advent day late) sitting down and looking to God’s Word for His advent message for me. “Lord, I missed the day of HOPE and now I need to consider JOY. I don’t want to be so caught up in life that I missed the most important parts.” I looked at my hands folded in prayer and saw the fingers of HOPE interlocked with the fingers of JOY. I may have missed last Sunday’s focus on hope, but I have not missed the message.
Hope is defined as a “confident expectation”. It is often confused with wishing, it is not the same. Oh, a wish is an expectation, but it is not rooted in confidence of completion. Hope, Biblical hope, is deeply rooted in confident expectation. This HOPE is what sustains us in difficult days, uncertain times and unsettled futures. This hope, confident expectation, is found when we place our hope in God. We can be confident because HE fulfills His promises…always has, always will.
The world waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise to send salvation. They hoped for a savior to reconcile a broken world with a Holy God. In the birth of Christ this hope was realized….our hope was realized. In Him we find forgiveness and grace. Believing Jesus is the Son of God, that he died and rose again to pay for our sins, asking for and accepting forgiveness is the salvation of man. THAT is the good news of great joy of which the angles spoke to the shepherds in that darkened field.
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great JOY which shall be for ALL the people.” Luke 2:10
This JOY is more than happiness. Happiness can be fulfilling, but it can also be fleeting. Joy is NOT fleeting. JOY is like a weight lifted, a door opened, a breathe taken, a debt forgiven. It is from inside and not due to our own actions or circumsatnce. Joy is knowing God loves us, forgives us, and has a plan for us and will not leave us.
This week the days may continue to speed past, or perhaps the days will get bogged down under the weight of a chaotic world, but my desire is to let every bauble, bell and bright light, not blind me, but remind me of the HOPE I have in God and the JOY salvation brings to us all.