For the first Sunday of Advent, churches all over the world are lighting a single candle and speaking of HOPE: essentially the hope is of Christ whose coming has been promised and whose coming, we know, did happen. But then, if that Christ came, what is our hope today? Merely for His coming again or something else?
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? Romans 8:24 [NIV]
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”– Isaiah 7:14). Matthew 1:23
Today and tonight, our church also began this Advent season with a cry for hope but with much more power. Jess Bousa announced “It is time for us to stop thinking of the Christmas story as a baby shower.” Yes, it’s sweet that Jesus is depicted as coming among the poor, entertained by mild cows and sheep, and witnessed by the outcast shepherds of the day. But what of the other point? That God sent Spirit into a human woman to create a Savior, someone who could both live and die for us, fully human and fully God, sacrificing all, in order to deposit the Holy Spirit into each one of us : Emmanuel, God with us (in us).
So, if we have Emmanuel. Tonight, one of our worship leaders, Dale Woodring, shared: “If we have Christmas inside us every day and every month, then there is no need to fear holiday commercialism or misplaced focus, God is bigger than all that. God is not worried about the point of Christmas being missed because we have Emmanuel inside of us.”
We don’t have to hope for Emmanuel, if we have accepted the truth of the work of Christ to re-establish our relationship with God, then the Spirit is within us.
So, what do we hope for? Manifestation of Emmanuel in us. We hope for an explosion of a unified Spirit in humans, the ultimate human who lives and breathes and walks in the power of grace and mercy and love, fully trusting the Presence within, accepting the ongoing paradox of a life in Christ, for to live, truly live, is Christ [Philippians 1:21].
Hope is a word of confidence, an expectation of a good result, with or without evidence, hope remains. Hope is active, not passive. Hope can be regenerated. Hope loves. Hope sees. Hope is born in Emmanuel.