The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Advent. A season of great anticipation. We wait, hushed, in a noisy world that does not know what it’s missing. We wait in expectation for the child King’s arrival, knowing He has already come, knowing He is coming again. We wait. We hope.
What is hope exactly? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hope as desiring something with the expectation of obtainment. This definition leads me to ask the question: What do we hope for?
If we look around us, we see the world in a dire state, but I don’t believe these sorrows are anything new under the sun. When Israel waited for the Messiah, their nation was in a dire state too. When Jesus was born into the world, people were starving, families were broken, and nations were war-torn. Evil men ruled. Disease destroyed. Hopelessness reigned in people’s hearts. Sound familiar? Tonight’s dark is no darker than the night the holy angels appeared to the shepherds watching over their flocks by night.
Jesus’ arrival into this world, his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection, I don’t think they turned out the way people thought they would. Jesus didn’t overthrow Roman rule over Israel, and the “kingdom” he established was intangible, unsettling, and started with twelve quite-motley men. Perhaps the people who had been waiting for the Savior did not recognize Jesus as such for these very reasons.
The good news? Every person who met Jesus and opened their hearts to His message found their longings fulfilled and their expectations surpassed. He not only healed the bleeding woman’s disease, he let her know that she was seen and valued, in a community where she was deemed outcast and unclean (Mark 5:25-34). Jesus not only healed the paralyzed man who was lowered through the ceiling during a sermon, He forgave the man’s sins too (Mark 2:1-12)! He enabled Peter to walk on water, and then He showed Peter a way to walk in fellowship with God all his days (Matthew 14: 28-33). When people’s hearts met Jesus’, they walked away full of hope.
When Jesus brought hope to this world, he brought the real deal. While he often brings physical hope and rescue, he always brings hope of the heart. Hope that what we desire in our innermost being – acceptance, love, forgiveness, life abundant – can be obtained despite our circumstances because His presence is always with us – as near as His smooth new-born skin to his mother’s chest, as real as the wounds in His nail-pierced hands, as sure as His second coming.
Though our days be dark and sorrows many, our thrill of hope has come. The weary world awakes to Hope Himself shining upon us. Lift up your heads and take heart.
*This begins a Sunday series celebrating Advent. If you are unfamiliar with this tradition, advent is the celebration of the anticipation of the “coming” of Christ at Christmas on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. While there are many variations of focus in this season, I will focus on the themes of hope, love, peace, and joy, all given to us by the Light of the World Himself, Jesus Christ.