Lens flare


Dec 19

4th Sunday of Advent


Advent 2021

We often speak of hope in the Advent season, but I’m not sure we always get it right.

At times, we seem to confuse hope with wishes. Children make Christmas lists and recite them to Santa. They imagine getting the thing that they see in advertisements and on television. For many, the lists are quite long. Is this hope? If so, they may learn a disappointing truth on Christmas when all their wishes are not granted.

Adults likewise may have many expectations for Christmas. Perhaps they hope for certain gifts. They may be hoping for ideal, joyful family gatherings – or at least hoping that people will behave themselves enough to have a peaceful one. They might hope for that perfect fairy tale Christmas, or that this year might finally be different. As sincere as those desires may be, is this hope?

If we think of hope in terms of mere wishes, it is easy to become disillusioned or jaded. In the ancient Greco-Roman world – the background of the New Testament – many believed hope to be a passing illusion. For a short time it displaced reality with the fantasy of something better. But it usually turned out to be only a passing dream.

St. Paul reminds believers that they once shared that attitude because they were …separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12) Talk about hopeless.

But this is not what Christians mean when we talk about hope! Hope is not a wish, but confidence. It is confident because it is grounded in God’s promises, and God faithfully fulfills his promises. He does not disappoint. We have hope in his promises because he is trustworthy. Hoping in a wish or a longing fails us because there is nothing to back up that hope. But hope that is rooted in God’s promises is well-placed. So Ephesians continues, But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

Hope is confident, but it is also forward looking. It confidently anticipates something that we know will come to pass.

Our forebears in faith had hope in God’s promised Messiah. Many of them died before the promise was fulfilled, but they were saved by the Messiah whom they anticipated in hope. They were not disappointed. In the fullness of time, God fulfilled that promise. Christ was born and redeemed his people.

In Christ, we also can have a sure and confident hope. This hope is not only for this life, but for all eternity Were this merely our own wish, it would be fleeting. But this hope is anchored in the sure and certain promises of God. He will fulfill it.

As we conclude this Advent season of preparation, and as we focus on the things of God, we look to the future with genuine hope, trusting that our God will be faithful. He always is.

O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7)


Repeat the Sounding Joy: A Concordia Christmas

A new made-for-TV special episode of “A Concordia Christmas” was filmed for PBS in the Borland-Manske Center, airing during the week of Christmas.

Learn More

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