A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
- “O Holy Night,” Adolphe Adam
This refrain from the popular Christmas carol “O Holy Night” has been on my heart recently. As I have considered Advent, the season of preparing one’s heart for Christmas, in light of this year’s events, it seems the world needs this season more then ever. With the ever-present reality of COVID-19, increasing political tensions, extended periods of isolation, a rise in focus on racial reconciliation, and rescheduled and cancelled plans, 2020 has seemed bleak, indeed. And yet, here in the very thick of the anxiety and heartache is the season of Advent, reminding us of the beautiful reality of the birth of Christ.
Every year, thousands of believers around the globe observe the season of Advent, taking time and making space for their hearts to be focused on the true meaning of Christmas. The Advent season lasts for four weeks, coming to a close on Christmas Eve. Each week has a focused theme, usually beginning with hope and progressing to peace, joy, and love, respectively. In many churches, a candle is lit each Sunday to acknowledge that week’s theme. Here on the blog, I am excited to walk through the season of Advent with you, providing a weekly reflective piece on that week’s theme and interspersed Christmas and Advent themed articles.
Advent begins by focusing on the theme of hope. In modern culture, the word “hope” has become associated with making a wish, but Biblical hope is a certainty rooted in the reality of our Savior who came in the likeness of man so that we might know Him. In Scripture, hope involves anticipation or expectation, as one recognizes current situations but chooses to wait on the Lord.
In Isaiah 9, there is a beautiful prophecy of this hope. Isaiah writes, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. [. . .] For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:2 and 6, ESV). In Luke 1:78-79, Zechariah says, “Because of God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (ESV). As believers, we have hope because the God of the universe came as a radiant light into our darkness, in the form of a tiny infant who would eventually die on a cross to take away our sins.
At the beginning of this Advent season, I challenge you to dwell on this overwhelmingly beautiful truth. Despite all the darkness around us, we have a sure and certain hope in the Lord. Draw near to Him this season and allow Him to be the light in the midst of your darkness.
For more information about the use of the word "hope" in Scripture, see the following video: Advent Word Study: Hope