second advent reflection:


Hope is a state of anticipation – a longing for a future that’s better than the present. Hope is crucial for a healthy human existence, and it’s a really important concept in the Bible.

Before continuing with today’s reflection, watch the following video from The Bible Project’s Advent Word Series:

Consider your circumstances, or perhaps the circumstances of someone you care for. What is it about the present that you long to see changed?

In the Old Testament there are two main Hebrew words translated as “hope”. The first means simply “to wait for”. Like in the story of Noah and the ark, as the flood waters recede, Noah had to ‘hope’ for weeks.

The other Hebrew word meaning “to wait” is related to the Hebrew word for “cord.” When you pull a cord tight, you produce a state of tension until there’s release. So hope can be the feeling of tension and expectation while you wait for something to happen.

So in Biblical Hebrew, hope is about waiting or expectation, but waiting for what? In the period of Israel’s prophets, as the nation was sinking into self-destruction, Isaiah said, “at this moment, the Lord’s hiding His face from Israel, so I will hope for Him.” The only hope Isaiah had in those dark days was the hope for God Himself.

Imagine holding this rope in your hand. Now imagine pulling it tight and holding it tight for as long as you can.

What do you notice? How does it feel? How long can you hold it before you feel the need to release it?

There is a difference between the hope of an optimistic outlook and the hope we find in the Bible. Optimism looks for a change in circumstances, whereas biblical hope looks for a person.

In fact, hopeful people in the Bible often recognise there’s no evidence things will get better, but they choose hope anyway. It’s like the prophet Hosea, who chose hope when he said God could turn this ‘valley of trouble into a door of hope.’

Now imagine standing in front of a door.
As you do, think about what hope has meant for you.

Sometimes we interpret a door of hope as a way of escape, but what if a door of hope was more about entering into an embrace?

Not just optimism, but hope.

In the New Testament, the earliest followers of Jesus cultivated this similar habit of hope. They believed Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was God’s surprising response to our slavery to evil and death. The empty tomb opened up a new door of hope. And this wasn’t just for humans. The apostles believed that what happened to Jesus in the resurrection was a foretaste of what God planned for the whole universe.

Through the person of Jesus, they anticipated a future that would be far better than their present, but it wasn’t just something to look forward to.

It was something to experience in the now.

Living in hope is more than wishful thinking, it is a choice that anticipates God bringing about a future that’s as surprising as a crucified man rising from the dead. Christian hope lives in the light of the risen Jesus, and it looks forward to the final fruit of resurrection.

So we wait.

As a final act, imagine stepping through your door as you hold your rope tight. Once you are on the other side, release your grip and lay the rope down. As you do, imagine what it would be like to receive an embrace from God Himself.

Take a moment to reflect on what that might feel like.
You might even like to ask God to help you step through your door.

Something to prayerfully consider this week:

As you think about your life or your world, what do you hope for this Christmas?

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