1st Sunday of Advent

Hope Candle

Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.

Reflection

                For centuries, the people of Israel patiently waited, expecting their savior to be born, and now, millions around the world are anticipating the return of that Savior.  This longing is represented in the first candle of Advent, lit to remind us of the expectation of Jesus.  The prophet Jeremiah understood that God was going to send a savior and told the people to anticipate his arrival; however, it was almost six hundred years later that the savior arrived.  For several generations people in Israel would live their entire lives in expectation of the day that God would send a savior.  The first candle of Advent reminds us that we too must live lives of anticipation, patiently waiting on Christ’s return.  But we are not participating in wishful thinking, Hope is a firm expectation that something will happen. Hope is the young child running downstairs on Christmas morning, she knows there are presents under the tree and her life reflects that knowledge. There is no part of her that believes the tree could be gone or that it will be empty, and her actions reflect her belief. Past experience of her parent’s goodness allows her to trust in the future she knows is ahead. At Christmas we often forget that Jesus is returning and concentrate entirely on the festivities remembering his birth we focus on the past and forget the hope.  Jesus’ birth should point us ahead to his return; this dual expectation is captured beautifully in Charles Wesley’s hymn Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus where he combines the birth of Israel’s anticipated Messiah with our cry, “raise us to thy glorious throne.” 

                Sometimes we treat this hope like more of an “if” than a “when.”  The Hope candle should help remind us that we are living in an age of confidence in God.  God has worked in Christ once in the past and God has given us a promise for a similar event on a future day.  Because God kept the promise to work once, we can be confident that the same God will continue to be trustworthy and faithful. 

Author of Hope, may I live so much in the hope you offer that I may claim the fulfillment of the promise even before it is fully realized, in the name of the One who embodies my Hope.  Amen.

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