Advent: Hope

Categories: Advent

HOPE – CELEBRATING THIS FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
By Carol and Bob Sherman

AS WE JOURNEY ON THIS ONE-WAY PATH WE CALL “LIFE”, WE CONTINUOUSLY EXPERIENCE AND EXPLORE THE WONDERS, THE TESTS, THE JOYS AND THE SORROWS, THE EXCITEMENT, THE TWISTS AND THE TURNS, THE SANDY BEACHES AND THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.

HOPE IS AN ORGANIC QUALITY THAT SOME OF US LEARNED AT AN EARLY AGE.  HOPING THAT THE TOOTH FAIRY WOULD LEAVE A QUARTER UNDER OUR PILLOW WHEN WE LEFT A TOOTH THERE UPON NAPPING.  HOPING THAT SANTA WOULD BRING NEW SKATES OR SKIS AT CHRISTMAS.   HOPING THAT YOUR NEXT BIRTHDAY WOULD INCLUDE A BIGGER BICYCLE, A NEW FOOTBALL OR A NEW JACKET.

AS WE MATURED, HOPE TOOK ON GREATER SIGNIFICANCE.   HOPE FOR GOOD GRADES WAS OFTEN MATCHED BY LEARNING TO STUDY A LITTLE MORE. HOPE THAT SOME COLLEGE WILL SAY “YOU ARE WELCOME HERE”.  HOPE THAT YOUR DAD’S CANCER WILL NOT END HIS LIFE AT WAY TOO YOUNG AN AGE.  HOPE THAT THE PRETTY BLOND GIRL IN THE WHITE SHIRT AND BLUE SHORTS IN LEFT FIELD WILL SAY “YES” IF YOU ASK HER TO GO OUT TOGETHER – AND ANOTHER “YES” WHEN YOU ASK HER FATHER FOR HER HAND.  HOPE THAT THE TWINS YOUR WIFE IS CARRYING WILL ARRIVE SAFELY.  HOPE FOR BLESSINGS OF HEALTH, OF ENDURANCE, OF OPPORTUNITIES, OF FRIENDSHIPS WILL ACCOMPANY YOU ON THE PATH OF LIFE.  HOPE THAT YOUR MARRIAGE WILL SURVIVE MULTIPLE CHALLENGES, THAT MOVING ON AVERAGE EVERY THREE YEARS IS WORTH THE EFFORT, OR THAT YOUR SISTER IN LAW WILL MAKE IT PAST THIS UGLY CANCER WHICH HAS INVADED HER BODY.

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT HOPE DOES NOT COME ALONE.   HOPE IS ELEVATED BY FAITH IN A GOD WHO CREATED US AND WHO SENT JESUS TO GUIDE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF GOD’S LOVE FOR ALL OF US, AND PROVIDE A PATH OF REDEMPTION FOR MANY.   HOPE MANIFESTS ITSELF IN PRAYER, BECOMING THE CORNERSTONE BENEATH EVERY PRAYER WE OFFER UP.  HOPE IS GROWN ON THE FERTILE FIELDS OF BLESSINGS THAT HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO US.  HOPE IS WHY WE CAN ALWAYS PLANT THE SEEDS OF OPTIMISM TO MANAGE NEARLY EVERY LIFE EXPERIENCE.   LET ME SAY AGAIN:  HOPE DOES NOT COME ALONE – IT’S JOINED BY FAITH, BY PRAYER, BY ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF OUR BLESSINGS AND BY A POSITIVE ATTITUDE.

PERSONALLY – WHEN MY “HOPE FACTOR” FEELS LOW, MUCH LIKE THE GAS GAUGE ON MY CAR, I HAVE LEARNED TO STOP AND ASK MYSELF “WHY”?  HOW AM I DOING? AM I TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING MYSELF?  HAVE I PRAYERFULLY ASKED GOD TO HELP?   TO GUIDE ME?  TO RESET MY EXPECTATIONS?  WAY TO OFTEN, GOD’S ANSWER TO ME IS PRETTY SIMPLE:  “ASK CAROL”!

FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS, THREE OTHER GUYS AND I AGREED TO EACH ADOPT A BIBLE VERSE TO CENTER OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEW YEAR.  WE EACH SELECT A BIBLE VERSE BEFORE JANUARY 1 AND STAY FOCUSED ON THAT VERSE FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR.  MANY YEARS AGO, ROMANS 15:13 WAS MY CHOSEN VERSE.  AS THE CHALLENGES OF THAT YEAR UNFOLDED, I TIGHTLY HELD ON TO THIS VERSE TO PROVIDE A GUIDING STRENGTH TO ENDURE MANY TRIALS.

ROMANS 15:13 READS:

MAY THE GOD OF HOPE / FILL YOU WITH ALL JOY AND PEACE  / AS YOU TRUST IN HIM,  / SO THAT YOU MAY OVERFLOW WITH HOPE  / BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

LET’S FILL GOD’S HOUSE WITH GOD’S WORD – PLEASE SAY THIS AGAIN WITH ME. REPEATING AFTER ME.

THANK YOU.

MAY YOU ALWAYS CELEBRATE THE HOPE THAT LIVES IN YOU.  MAY THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO HOPE FIND A NEW SOURCE OF HOPE, PEACE, LOVE AND JOY IN JESUS.

AMEN.

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