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First Candle of Advent 2021 - Hope

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 33:14-16)

single candle
photo by Anjo Antony on Unsplash

As Kristin Watson reminded us in the Advent liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent, Christmas is coming! There are loved ones to see, gifts to give, baking to share. We prepare our homes for the celebration – a celebration of Christ's coming! Yet even more important than this outward preparation is the preparation of our heart.

The Advent season is a beautiful reminder to prepare our hearts as we prepare our homes – to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus! This week we light the first of four candles in the Advent wreath: the candle of Hope.

Is your heart filled with hope this morning? Do you have a confident expectation of your tomorrow? What happens when the road ahead is filled with loss and stress weighs your shoulders down? When confident expectation for tomorrow dwindles, what can you do? How can you walk in hope when you feel hopeless inside?

In one word, the answer to confident expectation is JESUS – the Jesus of Christmas. Hope in Jesus comes from more than just a belief that he was once a baby in a manger. This hope in him has been called “an anchor for the soul.” It is something deep within that secures you through the storms of life.

Putting your hope in Jesus will give you these four things:

HOPE FOR HELP We are invited to come to him and confidently ask for help. Hebrews 4:16 tells us “to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need.”

HOPE TO OVERCOME Things that leave one feeling powerless and hopeless come in many forms. With Christ's Strength you can overcome great obstacles, and faith in Jesus gives hope and help to overcome. I John 5:4 assures us “this is the victory that ovecomes the world, even our faith.”

HOPE FOR POWER Sometimes in life we find ourselves with a task that simply looks too big for us. We do not need just a cup of God's strength added to our own; rather, we need his strength in us to do what we need to do. He will give it! 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Seeing our weakness as the entry point of God's strength gives us access to his power!

HOPE FOR ETERNITY When we put our faith and hope in Jesus, it not only gives us help, strength, and power for where we walk today, but it also gives us hope for life after death. It is a confident expectation of the ultimate “tomorrow.”

The God of hope sent his son to be our Savior. He is only one prayer away. If you want the confident expectation of his strength and wisdom in your today and his help and hope for your tomorrow, you need only ask so that you may overflow with hope. We pray as Paul prayed in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace,

(Thanks to Warren Ayer for developing this liturgy)

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