Advent reflection

  • Nov. 26, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Submitted by Pastor Rob Williamson, Bethel Assembly, Queen Charlotte–We’ve entered once again into the season of Advent. For some people, the word Advent is a foreign or vague word, but to others it holds a deeper meaning. Advent is a time of reflection and meditation on the story of Jesus’ birth, a story which first started as a promise to the Hebrews for the birth of the Messiah. Today many Christians not only celebrate that birth of Christ but also, like the Hebrews await, not for another birth, but for the anticipated return of Jesus Christ.Advent traditionally is observed and celebrated four weeks before Christmas and reflects on four common themes: Hope, peace, joy, and love. For the next few weeks, I hope you would take a step and explore this story and see how it to can reveal to you the meaning of Advent and Christmas in your life through: Hope, peace, joy, and love. This week’s recommended scripture readings: Isaiah 11:1-11; Jeremiah 33:14-16; John 1:1-5; Mark 13:33-37; Romans 15:4-13Hope pastLong before Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem, a hope was already shared centuries prior by many Hebrews. A hope that one day their Messiah would come who would rescue them from the sin and misery of the world. Throughout the Old Testament, many Hebrew prophets foretold of a day when one would come who would break the hardness of God’s people’s hearts and bring everlasting peace. Isaiah was one. During a desperate time around 750 BC, many Hebrew people were in a state of panic. The northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians, and the people had fallen into a deep hopelessness. During this time Isaiah prophesied, “The judgment of God will come.” He saw his nation crumbling from within, plunged into ruin, and reduced to a tiny remnant. This was certainly not good news for the people of Israel. But no matter what happened, Isaiah firmly believed that Yahweh was in control. He believed God would bring forth from the tragedy a disciplined and purified remnant of his people and preserve the promise of a Messiah. I love how Isaiah declares that, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit (Isaiah 11:1).”Through chaos, despair and hopelessness, God did not give up nor did he nullify his promise to bring salvation to Israel and to the world. This hope filled promise would be unfolded 750 years later as Mary and Joseph would venture into the town of Bethlehem and Mary would give birth to a child, and not just any child, but the Prince of Peace, the promised Savior of the world. Hope presentHow does this hope affect us today? The story of Jesus’ birth is about God showing that he keeps his promises and also that he is trustworthy, even to this day. Today this hope exists, not in the form of a child. But through what that child grew up and fulfilled. Jesus, later on in his life as an adult, brought peace between God and man through His willful sacrifice and death upon a cross. Our hope today is this: that we can have peace with God and He has rescued us from the sin and misery of this world. Not only that but through the chaos, the hurt, the pain, and the hopelessness, if we allow Him, Jesus too will bring peace, healing and hope into our lives. Jesus also adds that if you trust him and put your faith in him that, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Hebrews 13:5b).” This is the Hope we have for today. Especially during a time, where so many are unsure of what tomorrow has to offer, Jesus can give you Hope for today, and for tomorrow.Hope futureJesus once told His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3).” Our last glimpse into hope moves us into the future with the promise of Christ’s return and to take us home with Him. A place where scripture tells us that, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4).”What a hope to look forward to. For many of us, it’s hard to picture a place where there’s no more death, no more mourning, no more crying, and no more pain. Centuries ago, God promised a messiah and he came. He also promised that there would be peace between God and man and we have a choice to live in that promise today. Now, we look forward towards the foreshadowing of God’s promise to be completed, His returning to take His people home to heaven to be with Him for all of eternity. Christmas is more than just gifts, parties, family and friends. It’s also about Hope. During this Advent season I challenge you to take time and allow God to refocus your vision and recapture your hearts filling them with purpose, love, and Hope. Hope for the present and Hope for Christ’s return. Join us at Bethel Assembly in Queen Charlotte as we explore this further Sunday at 10:30 am.