December 9, 2020
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
The second advent candle we light typically represents love. As I planned for Advent, I was sure that this week I would share the scripture of the shepherds tending their flock and say something about the love the shepherds expressed to their sheep. But this year, my eye keeps getting drawn back to that first candle. That candle of hope. After the year we’ve had, we are clinging onto hope. Hope for joy and peace. Hope for the love that came down on Christmas. Hope that things will get better, and fast!
While shepherds were lovingly tending their flock, there was certainly hope among them as well! Terror ran rampant as well, at first. But with the angels’ proclamation there sprung forth a hope as well. A hope that they got to see as they hurried to the stable and a babe in a manger! But was that hope? Romans 8:24 says, “hope that is seen is no hope at all.” So perhaps the hope of the shepherds was short-lived, lasting from the fields the manger. Then again perhaps not. Yes they had seen what the angels told them they would see, but the child had yet to do much but sleep! Baby Jesus’ ministry was still years away. And so as Mary locked away these memories in her heart and the shepherds excited returned to the fields, hope continued to thrive! Hope in Immanuel, God with us. Hope that just as the angels were right about where the child could be found they would be right about what the child would do.
We know the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. While we may not have seen Jesus with our eyes, we have seen lives changed in Jesus’ name. We have experienced enough of Christs love to become disciples. We know following Jesus is difficult and hope can often seem in short supply. Still, we carry the hope of the shepherds who have seen the baby, but have yet to see how the world will be changed by his life. Jesus was just getting started. God’s work is not yet finished. We have ample hope in the work that God is doing, even in the midst of a pandemic.
With two candles lit, I love the reminder that hope is thriving. Hope for a bright and beautiful tomorrow. Claim that hope, my friend, and be good to yourself as we continue to wait and prepare this Advent.
Grace and peace,