The first week of Advent is upon us and on Sunday, we lit the Hope candle in our Advent wreath at church. With the expectation of gifts and feasts less than a month away, now is a good, no, the best time to examine what we are hoping for this Advent and Christmas season.
I hope for good grades in all of my classes.
I hope for safe travel for my friends, family, and self.
I hope for good books and CDs this Christmas.
I hope for good food on Christmas day (Mom. Dad. Audrey. You three know what to do.)
And I'm willing to bet that most college students agree with me. But these hopes last only until the New Year. Then it's the same old grind of hoping for canceled classes and fun times.
What about the stuff that really matters, though? What do we hope for, or better yet, what should we be hopping for?
Advent is the time of looking forward to the coming of Christ our King, Immanuel, "God with us". We look for the Virgin who is with Child as a sign of our deliverance, for to us a Child will be born, a Son will be given. We hope for the birth of our Salvation, the very Word of God. But we look to more than that. We look to the Kingdom of God to be established. We listen for the voice calling in the wilderness, calling for the children of God to be found and delivered. We hope that "the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy," (Isaiah 35:5-6). We look for the great light to guide us out of the darkness, that the light of dawn be seen in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. We hope that our world will be turned upside down (for more on the upside-down nature of Christ, see Mitch Lewis' comparison to Yellowstone).
We hope for a time when the children of Uganda are able to attend school and live without fear of rebel soldiers. We hope for a time when the people of Darfur can return home and be no longer persecuted. We hope for a time when no person is allowed to go hungry. We hope for a time when the sex-slaves in Atlanta are free and healed. We hope for a time when the North Koreans are no longer oppressed. We hope for a time when Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland can turn aside from hundreds of years of tension. We hope for a time when the full power of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, is recognized and embraced throughout the world.
Post Script: The post is named after "Hold Fast Hope" on Thrice's album, Vheissu.