Advent – Week One HOPE

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.  Romans. 15:13

     Wow, it’s hard to believe! Thanksgiving 2018 is now history, and we’ve entered the Christmas season.

     If you know me well, you know I love everything Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the scents of the season fill me with excitement—and, I admit, sometimes, exhaustion.

     In my non-liturgical faith tradition, little emphasis was placed on Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Last year, I decided to download an Advent devotional, which I read daily until December 25th. Ironically, our pastors also chose to place emphasis on Advent, and each Sunday lit a candle on an Advent wreath.

     I loved my newfound dimension of Christmas, delving more deeply into the sacred meaning of the holy season. I determined to learn more about the liturgical tradition and wanted to create an Advent wreath for our home this year.

     During December, I will be placing emphasis on Advent in my personal devotions and in the Listening on the Journey… blog posts. Each week, my focus will be on traditional themes of Advent:

     Week One, the candle, known as The Prophets’ Candle, symbolizing HOPE;

     Week Two, The Bethlehem Candle, symbolizing FAITH;

     Week Three, The Shepherds’ Candle, symbolizing JOY;

     Week Four, The Angel’s Candle, symbolizing PEACE.

     On Christmas Eve, we’ll have our two young grandkids light a fifth, taller candle, which will be symbolic of Jesus.

     The Jewish nation hoped and waited for a savior for a very long time. More than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah, foretold their Messiah’s birth,

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

The ancient Christmas hymn, O Come O Come Emmanuel summarizes beautifully the hope of the prophets:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

     The first week of Advent focuses on the HOPE of Christmas—the arrival of Immanuel (also spelled Emmanuel) through the mystery of the incarnation.

Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus. Strip away the season’s hustle and bustle, the trees, the cookies, the extra pounds, and what remains is a humble birth story and a simultaneously stunning reality — the incarnation of the eternal Son of God.

This incarnation, God himself becoming human, is a glorious fact that is too often neglected, or forgotten, amidst all the gifts, get-togethers, pageants, and presents…[1]

     In Thursday’s post, I will focus further on the importance of the hope of Emmanuel in our lives today. Until then,

Blessings as you ponder the mystery of the incarnation and the hope of Christmas…

Sue Reeve

  1. Joseph Scheumann, www.desiringgod.org/articles/five-truths-about-the-incarnation

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