I love the story of Zechariah. The angel Gabriel tells Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, are going to have a son, John the Baptist, and John will prepare the way for the Lord. To which Zechariah replies, how can I be sure this will really happen? To which Gabriel replies, you must have missed the part where I said God sent me to give you this good news. Now I think it’s best that you not talk….. for a long time. When Zechariah regains his voice he sings God’s praises and rejoices that God remembers his covenant.
Christmas Eve. What a glorious, wonderful time. Anticipating the birth of Jesus. Right now it is so quiet and peaceful. But I know that just outside it is cold and dark. Sometimes it seems the world is spiraling out of control. You don’t have to look far to find greed, chaos, cynicism, violence and evil in the world. Fearful and uncertain, we ask, where is the hope? In fact, after reading the headlines you would think the order of the day should be despair rather than hope. Yet here we sit waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ. In the midst of the hopelessness of this world we have hope. Why is that? Are we a bunch of naïve Pollyannas? Are we delusional? Our hope is not baseless. Our hope is not some vague, wishful thinking. It is a solid rock. It is grounded in God’s character. Grounded in the fact that God loves us. How do we know? Well, tomorrow we will be celebrating the day God sent his son into the world for us. Christ is God’s covenant with us. God’s declaration of His love for us. So what is our end of this bargain? Well, we have to accept the notion that God really does love us (not easy). And we have to trust God (really not easy). And how do we present our hope to the world? I wish I had a good answer to that one. I believe that each one of us was created for a purpose. Our main purpose is to glorify God and the tools that we need to accomplish that have been specially crafted and fitted to us by our Creator. I meet so many people who are seeking a spiritual life, but the moment I mention church they clam up. They obviously view the church as a hindrance to a relationship with God. How do we get past that? How do we convince people that we are for, not against them? How do I introduce someone to Jesus? I can think of no better way to impact someone’s life than to do just that.
There’s a wonderful, old hymn, “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”. That seems to sum it up.
One wonders how Mary felt so long ago. I marvel at her faith, her trust and her obedience. And she brought hope into the world.
My prayer today is for everyone celebrating Christmas. That people would see our hope. Maybe in something as simple as a smile or an encouraging word. And that we would remember God’s gift and the reason for our hope.
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