I am writing this on a cold and still dark morning in Wisconsin. We have officially made it past the day of the year with the least sunlight, but it’s hard to tell on this morning. We have made it to Christmas again. Each year Christmas is a time that causes me to reflect, as a pastor, on the last year but also on the meaning of this time, the event of Jesus’ arrival, and the impact it all has on me. What overwhelmed me as I read the Christmas story this year from scripture was the word “hope”. If I had to make a billboard to summarize what I perceive the atmosphere around Jesus’ birth it would say “Hope Wanted.” And I believe it would be an accurate sign today.
Hear me out, I don’t mean this as a dark and sinister picture of the world we live in, instead I believe that no matter the place of life you find yourself in today; be it joyous, nervous, or somewhere else, we all have this deep longing for hope. Hope is one of those words if you asked me if I know what it means, I would be quick to say yes. But if you asked me to define it I would struggle to put it into words. I believe the longing we each have is to experience hope – to know it is real. It is more than a word used in churches, more than a word used in dire circumstances to make us feel better. Hope must be real, right?
In this holiday season as we all look for real hope, for a tangible, touchable reason for Hope, we need to look no further than a husband and wife in a barn in Bethlehem as they welcome their first born son. Hope does not need to be a theoretical thing. It can be found in a living breathing person, who came so that we all might be saved. Merry Christmas, and may you find Hope in a very real way in the life of Jesus who came to live and die for you.