For this year’s Advent series, we will look at the themes of Advent, hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ, through the lens of community. As I read through the prophecies of the coming of Israel’s Messiah and the stories of the birth of Jesus they all refer to, are addressed to, or are the object of people groups, communities. In Matthew’s gospel account of the birth of Jesus he tells how an angel announced to Joseph that he should name Mary’s baby Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins, and also that this child will also bear the name Emmanuel, meaning God is with us. (Matthew 1:18-25) This reminds me that Jesus came, first and foremost, to deliver and redeem a people for the glory of God and to be citizens of his kingdom.
Now, why should this community be known as a community of hope? Hope is a hallmark of the people of God. From the time of Abraham, through Moses and the prophets, the people of God held in their hearts a hope of a saving king, establishing freedom and prosperity for them and their future generations. After the advent of Jesus the church bore this same hallmark, except now they had received their salvation and were waiting for Jesus’ second advent and subsequent resurrection of the righteous for the inhabiting of the New Jerusalem.
Christmas provides the opportunity to look back to the nativity story, reconnecting to the hope that Jesus was and is. The great thing is that we get to continue to pass forward this hope, a hope that Jesus still saves a people from their sin, validating this community by living among them through his Holy Spirit, who is the promise of eternal life. This community of hope is not a closed community, but open and expanding as those who hear the message of hope, receive the gift of salvation, and gather together with the people of God, start the cycle over again, proclaiming the message of hope.
May your hearts be filled with the hope of Jesus as you gather with his people this Christmas season and beyond.
Grace and peace,