Breaking the Silence: Hope

Are you hungry for God to break his silence? He did. With the birth of his Son, God surpassed everything he’d said before. Jesus is God’s word of hope.

 This season fills us with longing, doesn’t it? The smells and sounds and sights of Christmas tantalize our senses. We catch whiffs of peace. Taste hints of grace. Feel a lift of hope. But when the feeling fades we realize we need something more solid. A word from heaven. Jesus, God’s final word.

This Christmas season we’ve looked at Jesus as

Today we’re going to see that he is also God’s word of hope to us. I’m thinking that’s some good news you need to hear today. I know I do.

Hopes and Fears

Christmas is a season that stirs hope even for those who don’t consider themselves religious. Maybe it’s the carols that bring up memories of childhood faith. It could be the well wishes of friends and strangers that characterize the month, increasing as the day approaches. Or perhaps it’s the atmosphere of nostalgia that comes with the decorations and gingerbread. Hope–a thing we would normally dismiss as naive at other times of the yea–seems possible in the days approaching Christmas.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting Light;

the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight

So we hope for a “cease fire” between political factions in our country. Or we  hope for leniency from the boss. We pray that our wayward child will come home, or that at least the kids won’t bicker at the dinner table.  We ache with longing for healing in our marriage, reconciliation with a friend, an end to our insolvency, a transformation of our failures.

Disappointed By Jesus

Because hope stirs at Christmas we’re particularly vulnerable to disappointment. The job offer falls through, the sick child worsens, the marriage explodes. The bad news makes a mockery of the holiday cheer around us. Prayers change to accusations. Really Lord? At Christmas?  We’re not just disappointed by life, we’re disappointed by Jesus.

And we’re not alone.

I’m thinking of a time when two of Jesus’ followers were walking along a road, heads hung heavy with sorrow, minds numb with disappointment. Stunned, they couldn’t grasp the disaster of the days before. As they tried to make sense of it, another traveler approached them. “What are you talking about?” They stopped in their tracks, dumfounded that he didn’t know the news that had crushed their hopes. So they told him about Jesus of Nazareth,

…how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.

And they told him about their hopes,

But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Luke 24:19-21

The baby announced by angels, the man who healed and preached and raised the dead, the hoped for Messiah was now dead.

Little did they know that his death wasn’t the end of the story. These disappointed disciples were about to have their world turned upside down again. Jesus had been raised from death never to die again. Within hours they would find out he was the one speaking to them.

And not only was he going to redeem Israel. He was going to do a whole lot more.

Our Hope is Too Small

The disciples were disappointed by Jesus because their hope was too small. The happiest ending they could imagine was for Israel to be restored like the prophets had promised. We’re like them. We place all our hopes in a happy ending to our story.

But Jesus didn’t come at Christmas to give our story a happy ending. He came to do much more than that. He came to bring us into his story. His story involves not just birth and life, but death and resurrection. And what does it include? The redemption of all things, not just our personal brokenness. In fact his story doesn’t end until all things are made new. Which is a whole new beginning.

The end of Jesus’ story is better than the ending we have written for our own story. This is the word of hope God brings to us at Christmas. By faith we have been written into his story. Our happy ending is a hope so certain you could call it a future fact.  “It is finished” is the word of triumph that includes not just our past, but our present and future.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

It is finished. Count on his word of hope–and rejoice!

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