Advent Reflections: The World Still Needs a Message of Hope

I started out the Advent season by blogging along with the Revised Common Lectionary. The first two weeks I was late and I completely skipped week three. Now we’re in the last week of Advent and I’m not planning to blog about the lectionary readings for this Sunday either. I’m awesome at blog schedules, huh?

I’ll be honest though, I do have more respect for people who teach from the lectionary every week.

Anyway, instead of sharing thoughts from the lectionary readings for this week I’m just going to share some reflections from Advent this year.

Our world is still in serious need of a message of hope.

The world, the Church included, seems to always be struck with so much negativity. We have children being murdered by religious extremists, racial strife, extreme poverty, and extreme wealth. Growing up in the Church, at least my background, we were taught that the world is going to hell and it would all be burned up one day. But our message isn’t one of gloom and doom, contrary to what you’ve heard. It’s a message of hope. In Christ all has been made right already. He has made peace between us and God and between each other. Christ himself is our peace. And one day the Kingdom will be realized in its fullness. He is redeeming the entire cosmos.

Jesus taught us to pray that God’s Kingdom would come “on earth as in heaven” in the Lord’s prayer. The Kingdom is for here and now. It’s not just some far off reality after death. At the end of Revelation we see this depicted as the new Jerusalem coming down to rest on earth. We, the Church, build for that Kingdom here and now. Not just by teaching and preaching, though that is part of it, but by losing our lives for the sake of others. By redeeming the marketplace in our community through honest business ventures. By painting, making music, and writing poetry. Just like Israel was instructed to make their home in Babylon and to actually contribute to and work for the good of the nation where they were in exile, so we are to work for the good of the city and community we find ourselves in.

The world around us is in serious need of a message of hope, just like the Israelites in captivity.

And this is our message: From eternity God has desired a family to share his love with. Being so full of love he decided to expand the community of the trinity to a being not yet created. We messed up. Over and over again. But God was so full of mercy, grace, and love that the incarnation took place. God stepped into time and space as a man in order to redeem us and bring us back into community with himself and with each other.

At Advent and Christmas we aren’t just celebrating a miraculous virgin birth. We’re not simply celebrating a baby born in a feeding trough. We are celebrating the God of all creation bursting into time in order to establish his Kingdom on earth as in heaven. Not to pay us back for all we crap we had done, for man’s rebellion and greed. But to save us. To bring us back into community with himself. To bring justice to the poor and destitute. That’s good news! That is a message of hope!

And that is our message.

So during Advent we reflect on the Jewish hope of a messiah that would redeem them. We also look forward to the day when God’s kingdom comes in fullness. But in the meantime we spread a message of hope, not just through our words, but through our actions that come out of our abiding in Christ. Jesus has been made King and Lord of this earth already. So as followers of Christ let’s live as if that is true, as if we actually believe it, and give hope to our neighbors and to our community.

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