Advent Connections: Hope

As we move into the season of Advent, each night grows longer and the air seems colder. Even creation joins in to remind us of our deep longing for light to break through and dispel the darkness.  This is how the people of God felt long ago. They knew the promises of God.  They trusted, and at times they doubted. They anticipated, and at times they feared as they awaited the promised Messiah.   

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah. ‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.'”  Jeremiah 33:14-16  

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…”   Micah 5:2 

They had a great hope.  God would act. God would come. And so they waited. 

In this first week of Advent, look back on the Old Testament HOPE that Jesus would come.  Consider the promises that were given (Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; Isaiah 9:6). Reflect on what it must have felt like in those long years of waiting.  Then look around and consider our hope that Jesus does come.  In these days, we live in a mixture of wonderful light and very real darkness.  Sin still brings with it injustice, pain, sorrow and brokenness. Yet we are not alone. By his spirit, Jesus is present with us.  And just as he did in Bethlehem long ago, he comes to us in unexpected ways bringing love, comfort, healing and hope. Where do you long for Jesus to bring light into your darkness?  Where do you see him at work in your life?  Wait with expectation and hope. Ask for eyes to see the unexpected ways he comes to you. 

Then look forward.  The one who came long ago as a baby, the one who comes today by his spirit, this same Jesus will come again. Are you longing for that day?  One day he will return and make all things new, doing what is right and just as ruler over all.  Reflect on this wondrous promise. And we wait with HOPE. 

Lord Jesus, as we make our way towards Christmas, draw our hearts to you.  Open our eyes to see all the ways that we need you, the ways that our world needs you. Out of that awareness, increase our longing for your coming. Protect us from being distracted by all the activity of this season.  Instead, in the midst of it, open our eyes to see you and our hearts to receive you as you come to us in love. We wait with hope. Come Lord Jesus.

Two prayerful listening worship options as we reflect on waiting for Jesus:

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

The Dark Before the Dawn

Contributed by Pastor Carla Olsen Draper