Yes, I know. I know I'm a little late writing about the Advent when the season is almost over. But I can't help but feel like there is something that needs to be said before the season is over, and it's important. So throwing my sense of bad timing out the window, here goes.
The last four (4) Sundays we have been celebrating the Advent season at church, lighting one candle in a series of four. The aspects we have celebrated are love, joy, peace, and hope (not in that order). (If there was a specific order for these and I got it all wrong, please accept my apologies. I'm doing good to remember them in the first place.)
Out of the four aspects that we have celebrated, two are fruits of the Spirit, one is part of the Big Three: faith, hope (hint hint) and one qualifies as both: love.
This is probably not the first aspect we celebrated during Advent. But it's the most important aspect. Not our love for others or for God, but His love for us, by sending us in the flesh our only hope for salvation--Christ Jesus. It's the foundation, the underpinning of why He came after us in the first place. Because He loves us so much, and because our sins were so deadly, He had to do something. We were utterly helpless to do anything to save ourselves -- we still are -- but God our loving Father made sure there was a way to escape from sins and to mute the consequences in our lives...by paying our penalties in full for us. That would not have been possible unless a perfect representative of God was sent and fulfilled His calling on our behalf.
Have you ever noticed that doing something is much easier to do if it is born out of love? It's harder to do things because we have to do them, but if we do it because we love someone, the task becomes much lighter and easier. If love is the motivation for action, it gives strength to the person doing it. Love is God's fuel for action.
Hope is somewhat different in the English language vs. Hebrew. Hope in our modern day vernacular is more akin to "wishing". To say, "I hope I get the job", is to actually say, "My wish is to get the job I applied for."
Hope is not a wish, but "earnest expectation". I don't know about you, but for me this is a phrase that sort of tunes me out, like some Christian-ese phrase that people throw around to show off their knowledge without really knowing what they are talking about. If hope is an "earnest expectation", then let's break this phrase down so perhaps we can uncover just what is meant, and then apply it to the Advent season.
The word earnest, in my mind, implies sincerity, honesty and a conviction within a person's deepest core. In researching this topic, I found that hope can also be defined as "anticipation of the fulfillment of the promises of God" (refer to http://biblehub.com/greek/1679.htm for more detailed info).
To anticipate the fulfillment of a promise given...just like an engaged woman anticipates the fulfillment of the promise her beloved made to her when he asked her to be his bride, and gave her an engagement ring to show he was serious. She's not just "wishing" he marries her, she's expecting to be married. So we should be towards God and his promises to us. We should expect the fulfillment of the promises because we have the down-payment of the promise to begin with...the Holy Spirit. Anticipation of a promise kept; that's Hope.
So therefore, in applying this Hope to the Advent, Christ is our Hope because He's the fulfillment of the Promise of salvation made by the Father long ago, shadowed in many forms and in many ways through the temple, tabernacle, feasts, festivals, prophecies, psalms, and stories of the old testament.
That's all I have for right now. Next time I will expound on Peace and Joy. Blessings to you and may the Lord keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you (His) peace.