First Week of Advent – HOPE
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:11-13 (NIV)
We have begun the Season of Advent. Each week a candle is lit on the Advent Wreath and we are reminded of our focus as we make our journey to Bethlehem. This first week we have one candle lit and our focus is on HOPE. So each week in this devotional we will see candles in different settings around our church. For this week it was easy to select this candle. Because it speaks to the word HOPE.
This candle is on the alter table in the Fellowship Hall. In March, when our church was closed for in person worship, and the world went in directions none of us ever experienced, the one consistent question was, “When are we going to be allowed back to church?” The answer was not easy, but we had hope that we could gather again one day. It took many meetings, a lot of discernment, creating a plan, having the plan wrecked by new rules, a revision of a plan, a lot of praying, endless hope, and finally hope fulfilled in August when we re-opened our doors to in person worship in the Fellowship Hall. We used this alter table, and we worshipped to the light of this candle.
And true to Paul’s instructions in Romans 12, in the midst of everything going on, we served those who were in need, we comforted the afflicted, we never lost our hospitality. With doors shut or doors open, we served and continue to serve the Lord. Hope gives a person amazing strength to overcome, hope is that knowing that God is with us especially in hardship. Hope is not wishing for something, it is rather by faith, knowing something will happen because God is close by.
It has been a challenging year, and the Season of Advent is still filled with uncertainty and challenge. But Christmas Eve will come. Christ will be born anew in our hearts. The season of Advent will provide us the opportunity to reflect, pray, and serve. As people of HOPE, we can be joyful for we know who is in control. A loving God who gave us His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. That is our hope. That is our prayer.
Gracious God, we know you are near. We feel your presence and we have hope for our days ahead. This Season of Advent asks us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. Help us to make those preparations and to be joyful in the HOPE that comes from Jesus. Amen.