Biblical Hope at Christmas

The church tonight – only half the number of people who had booked & many others would come.

Glass of water: is it half full or half empty?

Those who say the glass is half empty, we call a pessimist; those who say half-full we characterise as an optimist. As a follower of Jesus, should we be a pessimist or an optimist? You could point to all the doom and gloom and the recognition of human dysfunction to claim victory for the pessimists; but you could also point to the victory over sin and death by Jesus to claim a win for the optimists.

Nerd note: The glass is always full: water + air.

The world can be a very dark place. Yet Jesus brings joy + redemption.
Hope goes beyond the evidence.

Deeply personal. What we hope for is what motivates us to work for; it shapes what we live for. Hope gives us the courage to endure what life might throw at us.

For a follower of Jesus, hope allows us to hold onto the promises of God & the creativity and the freedom of God to fulfill his promises.

In biblical Hebrew, there are 2 words that can be translated as hope. The first is yakhal and it refers to having to wait for something, like for Noah, after the rain had stopped, he still had to yakhal / wait for many weeks for the waters to recede. The other word comes from the word for a cord or rope (qav) – when you pull a rope tight, it creates a state of tension until you are able to release it. That’s qavah: the feeling of tension and expectation while you wait for something to happen.

Isaiah 9 (2 Kings 15:29) Darkness + gloom. This child to be born will be mighty God, everlasting father, the prince of peace. Wonderful counsellor. No reason for optimism.

Yet Isaiah holds out this bold hope. Waiting on God’s promises. Biblical hope. Jesus doesn’t overthrow the Roman oppressors. He will take the government upon his shoulders. The cross!

2019: shrouded in smoke a year ago. Allow God to renew our hope.

2020 has challenged us.

Biblical hope is based on a person, which makes it different from optimism. Optimism is about choosing to see, in any situation, how circumstances could work out for the best, but biblical hope isn’t focused on circumstances. In fact, hopeful people in the Bible often recognise there’s no evidence things will get better, but you choose hope anyway… So Christian hope is bold, waiting for humanity and the whole universe to be rescued from evil and death. Some would say it’s crazy, and maybe it is. But biblical hope isn’t optimism based on odds; it’s a choice to wait for God to bring about a future that’s as surprising as a crucified man rising from the dead. Christian hope looks back to the risen Jesus in order to look forward, and so we wait.

Tim Mackie, Advent: Hope;

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Christmas Eve and Day.

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