The Spirit will fill the Prophets
with the Word of Hope!
Acts 2: 17-21
The postman delivered a message this week for me to pass on as a gift of encouragement. It said “welcome to your 2021 calendar of Hope!”
Traditionally, the first candle for Advent is for HOPE so as we light it this week we have something positive to look forward to: There is HOPE.
The first thing to be done is navigate our way down the Advent Road through Christmas so that we can start filling in our ‘calendar of Hope for 2021.’ To reach the HOPE we seek there is a direction to travel and if we avoid the distractions and temptations on the way we will find it. To do that we start with a faith that trusts in God’s plans, but that is tough when we are confronted with so many challenges. We can HOPE for a return to Sunday services or Activities during the week, but others are hoping they can survive the day with job, business or health intact. Many of us will be looking for that light of hope, but, to be honest, someone will need to light it for us.
Yes, here are a lot of people looking for HOPE this weekend as we start the Advent journey, but many need someone to BE the light of hope in their lives. The Psalmist (119: 105) says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path,” so it is the Word of God that provides our hope. The gift of encouragement I received is a calendar of Hope for 2021 from the Bible Society and the introduction says: “We are living in unprecedented times. Many of us have experienced loss, anxiety and loneliness, and yet through everything we know that our living hope is found in Jesus. We pray you are encouraged and inspired by this year by words of hope we find in the scriptures…”
I am encouraged and strengthened, but my candle still gets close to burn out or being blown out or the flame snuffed out so we need other people to be alongside us, helping us on the journey when the going gets tough. We can have the Word born in our hearts from previous years, but it’s not what we say that makes the difference. It’s how we say it or how we live it that matters most. We can know the words and select the texts to become Prophets warning of doom and gloom or we can deliver good news for the future, like the postman with my calendar of Hope.
God doesn’t inflict all the pain and suffering of Covid-19 on us, or any other adversity we experience, and makes that clear to Jeremiah (29: 11): “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope!”
When you are feeling weak and weary remember that “those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint!” (Isaiah 40: 31). The first two verses of a hymn remind me that, “All my HOPE on God is founded, but human pride and earthly glory can betray that trust”— which is when we become distracted or tempted to go our own way.
There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment and we need more than ever Prophets of HOPE rather than gloom. Young and old, men and women, are receiving the Spirit with the words of prophesy that promises that everyone who speaks in the name of the Lord WILL BE saved. That’s the HOPE with which I will light the first Advent Candle this weekend.
Our HOPE is in and through each other as we continue to be Christ to each other….. We want a better tomorrow, but HOPE comes beyond the challenges that we confront. It could be described as Easter happening at Christmas because we have to go through the cross to discover the HOPE of resurrection. The road to Bethlehem can be rough and tough with many more challenges but our great HOPE is found in the stable so don’t give up because God has a plan for us to have a better future.