By: Pastor Dave Hentschel
As we enter the season of advent, we embark on a journey of anticipation, and our hearts are filled with the flickering flame of hope. In a world often shadowed by uncertainty, the advent wreath reminds us that a light pierces through the darkness.
In the Gospel of Luke, we encounter the story of a young woman named Mary, who, despite her initial fear and confusion, embraced the divine calling upon her life. Her “yes” to God became a resounding note of hope for all humanity. In the quiet town of Bethlehem, in the humblest of settings, hope was born.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
(Luke 1:26-38, NIV)
Hope is more than wishful thinking; it is the confident expectation that God’s promises will be fulfilled. As we light the first candle on our advent wreath, let it symbolize the flame of hope ignited within us. The prophet Isaiah foretold a coming Messiah, a Prince of Peace who would bring hope to a broken world. This hope is not just historical; it is a living reality today.
In the midst of challenges and uncertainties, we can find hope in the promises of God. The psalmist declares, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). Our hope is anchored in the unchanging character of God, who is our refuge and strength.
This advent, let us cultivate a spirit of hope. Take a moment each day to reflect on the source of your hope. Is it in circumstances or in the unchanging love of God? As we await the celebration of Christ’s birth, let the flame of hope burn brightly within us, dispelling the shadows and pointing us to the true Light of the world.
May this season be a time of renewed hope, a reminder that the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.