Advent: Hope & Love

Hope and love.  Love and Hope.  Love of Hope.  Hope for Love.

All titles that were considered for this week’s post (in case you sometimes wonder how much thought actually goes into each of these).

But also, truly representative of how our thoughts tend to bounce around a bit during the hustle and bustle of this busy season.

And why it’s so important that we slow down a bit from time to time to more intentionally focus on what it is that’s got us so spun up.

And what that “what” should be, is our celebration of the birth of one literally like no other; our Savior, Jesus Christ.

During each Sunday (and week to follow) of the Advent season, we focus on one of the four virtues Jesus brings us; Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.

And in this edition, since we’re playing a bit of catch-up after the intro to Advent in last week’s post, we’ll take the opportunity to celebrate two of these virtues; Hope and Love.

I actually kind of “love” that we get to consider these two virtues together (as exemplified by my going back and forth with the title for this post).

Hope and Love – they just somehow seem to go so well together, don’t they?

It’s almost hard to imagine being able to have one without the other.

Where would love lead without hope?

How would hope survive without love?

And so, perhaps we can begin to understand why these two virtues are included in this season of anticipation.

Consider one of the most recognizable scriptures and greatest gifts we’ve ever received (and the one that follows it):

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:16-17 NIV)

Can you pause for a moment to feel the very real weight in this promise; the previously unheard of, abundant, and amazing love it represents and the hope that should be generated in us as a result of it?

This is the beauty of the season of Advent.

In the midst of the near break-neck pace that the Christmas season has become, to pause and consider the amazing Love our Heavenly Father truly has for us.

That in and through that love, He so strongly desires relationship with us that He saw fit to break away from His Heavenly Realm to come to us in a form with whom we could relate; as one of us, in the personhood of a helpless baby.

One that needed the love and care of others in order to survive.

One who (at least for a time) needed authority, instruction, correction and encouragement through relationship in order to thrive.

I pray, that whatever condition your soul is in as you read this, that this brings you hope.

And that, as we await and anticipate the celebration of the coming of our Lord, that you find a love within you that can’t wait to extend warmth, kindness and relationship to every other person that God places in your midst this Holiday season.

(Remembering that even the difficult ones can be the sandpaper God provides to help smooth off our own rough edges.)

That, as the Apostle Peter counsels (1 Peter 3:14-17), you find within you the ability to share the hope that is within you.

That you maybe even go so far as to break out of your comfort zone and make an intentional effort to connect with others in community.

Whether that be in family, a friends’ group, your Life Group or through participation in our Single Adults Ministry events.

Isolation and withdrawal lead to loneliness and loneliness is one of the chief causes of stress and anxiety.

That’s not what’s desired for you.  Your Heavenly Father wired you for connectedness.  To be in community with others (especially believers).

We need each other and to be there for one another.

Cultivate, produce and release the hope and the love that God intends for you.

Let’s pray and pray again through this season one of the Psalms of David:

“May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we place our hope in you.”

(Psalm 33:22 NIV)

In anticipation with you,