the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
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I sat in on a children’s Christmas program this week. The children squirmed, smiled, and waved at their watching family and friends as they filed onto the stage and found their places. Excitement was in the air, eyes were wide, and ears were tuned to every sound, sign, and motion from their instructor as they awaited the first notes signaling the grand production. While two little girls alternated singing the first lines of Silent Night, my attention was drawn to a little girl on the front row, maybe six or seven, long brown hair, snaggle toothed, swaying on tippy toes, and eager for just the right moment: her moment. Her smile was exaggerated and frozen, plastered on, probably coached and rehearsed ahead of time by an excited, expectant parent. She was a cute little brown-haired, brown-eyed girl but I had the impression that she would someday be a beautiful young woman…with a big, beautiful smile. I watched her waiting, anticipating. As the older girls finished their solo lines, the music crescendoed and the entire children’s choir erupted in glorious song. It was beautiful. She was perfect, the little brown-haired girl. She was practiced, prepared, and recognized all the sounds and cues.
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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
It’s the season of Advent: a time of waiting and expectation leading up to the birth of Christ. I’ve never studied Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic; but I did study Latin. My distant memories of high school Latin class remind me that “ad” means “to” and “venio” means “to come”. Advent represents God “coming to us.” For hundreds of years, God’s people had heard the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. They had years to practice, to watch, to tune their ears, to stand on tippy toes, swaying and waiting to sing and celebrate.
Hope, love, joy, and peace. Four pillars pointing to the coming of Christ.
Today I choose to think about the hope that Jesus gives us:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure… Hebrews 6:19
The world needs hope. Poverty, crime, depression, abuse, addiction, disease, rejection, dishonesty, hatred, strife, war, and despair seem more the norm than the exception in many lives. The New York Times recently reported that the suicide rate is at a thirty year high. The primary cause? Hopelessness. When we light the first candle of Advent, it is not to say that we have all the answers, that we have no problems, or that we have it all figured out. It is to say that we have hope. A light in the darkness. A flame burning bright. Warmth in the cold.
Therefore we have hope, light in the darkness, that God came to a cold, dark world. We are not alone. He is Immanuel, “God with us.” He is with us now. And as we light the candle representing the hope of his coming, we recognize that we are also looking forward to the new Advent. He is coming again. Wait expectantly.
If you prepare your heart,
you will stretch out your hands toward him.
If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
and let not injustice dwell in your tents.
Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
you will be secure and will not fear.
You will forget your misery;
you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
its darkness will be like the morning.
And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
you will look around and take your rest in security.
You will lie down, and none will make you afraid;
many will court your favor.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
all way of escape will be lost to them,
and their hope is to breathe their last. Job 11:13-20