This past Sunday served as the second Sunday of Advent. As the Advent candle illuminated the sanctuary, our pastor spoke on the hope of the season. Likewise, this second week’s theme in my series on Christmas will look at how hope played a role in the Christmas story.
Hope in the Christmas Story
But, before we look at people in the story of Jesus’ birth, let’s step back a moment and look at the Old Testament. From Adam and Eve until the time of Jesus’ birth, the entire world waited with bated breath on the hope of a Savior. The first sign of this hope appears in Genesis 3:15, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” This verse foreshadows that He (Jesus) will strike your head. Moses, David, Joseph, Jeremiah, and Isaiah all waited for the Messiah. Still, none lived to see the hope fulfilled with His birth in Bethlehem. For this present generation, we know the story of the birth of our King, and now our hope is on His return to take us home with Him.
The people of the story
Now, let’s look at some of the people in the Christmas story. Zachariah and Elizabeth are mentioned early in Luke. Elizabeth is Mary’s cousin. When Mary receives the news from the Angel Gabriel, Mary heads off to visit with Elizabeth. In her heart, Mary knows that Elizabeth will believe her story because of Zachariah and Elizabeth’s faith in the coming Messiah. Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary’s arrival displays the hope of promises fulfilled.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice, she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”Luke 1:41-45 NIV.
Mary and Joseph are another example of hope. They hoped in the miracle of the baby Jesus. They trusted God from the announcement to the birth and beyond. With only meager means of support, their hope rested entirely on God providing for them. God did not fail to provide for them either. The Inn Keeper provided a stable when everywhere else had no room for the young couple. The gifts from the Magi provided support for the early years of Jesus’ life. They allowed them to flee to Egypt to avoid King Herod’s rage against the prophecy fulfilled.
The shepherds also displayed hope when they left their sheep behind to worship the newborn King after the choir announces angels. Shepherds would never leave their sheep unattended; they would give their lives rather than lose one. But, on that Holy Night, they put their hope in God for their livelihood to go and seek their Savior. Though the sheep don’t get mentioned in the Bible, I feel sure the Heavenly Shepherd kept them all safe that night.
There is hope for each of us
We also see that many of the Christmas carols sing of the hope of Christmas. One of my favorite hymns is O Holy Night by Adolphe Adam. A weary world waited in anticipation for the miracle of Christmas to restore its hope. And, Jesus still offers us hope as we await His second coming.
O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
This year, because of COVID, Christmas will be different for many of us. Maybe we won’t see family, or perhaps we have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Christmas reminds us that our hope is in our Risen Lord. Take time this year to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and cherish this season of hope.
Dearest Jesus. This year has been challenging, and we have missed out on so many things. Let us look towards Christmas day with eternal hope for the things to come. Heal our lands along with our friends and families. Protect us today and let the new year be full of enjoyable times. Amen.
Yvonne M. Morgan is an author, blogger, and speaker.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
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