The Hope of Christmas
It’s Christmastime, and nostalgia tends to take over for many of us. I think back to my own childhood. I recall the smells and tastes of Christmas, the memories created during family gatherings, kids’ Christmas programs, and Christmas parties in grade school. And if you’d asked me back then if I’d like Christmas all year long, I’d of screamed at the top of my lungs an emphatic “YES!” I think it’s the hope of Christmas, the anticipation, and the excitement
There are common elements at Christmas that we all relate to. Maybe that’s why it feels more peaceful at Christmastime. Even with the rush of parties, get-togethers, and shopping, we still seem to be more abundant in love, patience, and grace. You know, there’s one common thread throughout Christmas that unifies and brings us together.
But it shouldn’t be this way only at Christmas, but all year long. So for the next few weeks, let’s take a journey together and examine some relatively familiar narratives within the biblical Christmas story. We’ll start with the Hope of Christmas, followed by the Plan of Christmas. In week three, we’ll look at the Celebration of Christmas. And the last week, we will explore the Adoration of Christmas.
I hope you’ll join me in this journey…Here we go!
The Hope of a Birth
I’m sure you have, but I’m, gonna ask anyway. Have you ever faced a situation, circumstance, obstacle, or task that seemed insurmountable? Every time you thought about it, feelings of impossibility welled up within you. Maybe it left you fearfully frozen, unable to take action. Or perhaps you just gave up.
Try this one on for size – when something seems impossible for you, do you also believe it’s impossible for God?
I leave God out of the impossible. There’s no way for me to tackle the impossible, so there’s no way for God as well. Boy, that’s a hopeless place to be, isn’t it? I wonder if the Jewish nation felt hopeless when God stopped speaking through prophets. (the period between the Old and New Testaments). Did they lose hope? Did some give up?
Or what about people like Elizabeth and Zechariah. Both are righteous in God’s eyes (See Luke 1) and part of the priestly lineage, Zechariah being an Israelite priest. But they were childless. And in that culture, people would have thought they’d done something wrong – like they’d upset God. As they aged, the inability to have children became a source of shame for Elizabeth. It might have seemed…hopeless.
Zechariah had specific responsibilities as a priest, and on one occasion, he was selected to burn incense within the temple. This was a once and a lifetime honor! But he was in store for a once-in-a-lifetime visit…by an angel.
Gabriel, to be specific. Here’s his message.
“Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.” Luke 1:13 NLT
Who we know to be the forerunner for and cousin to Jesus.
This is interesting. Up to this point, Luke hasn’t mentioned that Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for a child. Apparently, they had because Gabriel declares God had heard their prayer.
Implication? They didn’t give up on hope. They didn’t put limits on God despite their limited state. Being beyond the age of bearing children, the situation seemed impossible. And it was…for them. Yet, they continued to pray, seek God, and obey despite the seemingly silent God they served.
Here’s the takeaway; what seems impossible for us is not impossible for God. He is the Hope of Christmas.
You’ve Got a Choice
That’s the Sunday School answer, I know. We still face times when we feel hopeless. And the temptation is to give up. But you’ve got a choice. Sure, you can give up. You can stop praying and seeking God.
Or you can do something different. You can move.
If you want to see a change in your life, most often, you are the one that needs to do something different. How about this – try changing your perspective and ask God to help you see things how He sees them. That’s what I have to do.
We do this through the active pursuit of God. All hope is rooted in Him. Pursuing after God seeks the very relationship that feeds the fire of hope.
There’s no better time to pursue God than right now, when thoughts are on the Hope of Christmas, the hope of a baby, in John the Baptist, but ultimately in the Savior of the world, Jesus.
Pursuing God is super simple. Spend time with Him in prayer all throughout your day. Each time your thoughts drift to the impossible, remind them the impossible belongs to God. Give Him permission to help you see things from His perspective. And then trust like crazy! Stoke that fire of hope within you. Pursue God’s perspective.
This does not mean things work out just like you, and I want them. In fact, most times, they don’t. A better perspective is anticipating how God will show up in the impossible. It’s an attitude of expectancy and wonder. God does some of His best work in us while we’re waiting on Him.
He is the Hope of Christmas! Pursue that hope now!
You are loved!