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Advent Week 2

By Jesse Packard
December 26, 2017

Advent Reading 2

Hope Candle

Last week as we lit the preparation candle, we talked about how we need to be preparing our hearts for Jesus. This week, we light the hope candle.

Hope. Expectation and desire for something to happen. Hope is a powerful part of our human experience. Even the most downcast and distraught person can have hope: hope for a better future, hope for something to change, hope for salvation. The Israelites had hope that God would send a savior. But let’s not think about the entire nation of Israel today, I want us to focus in on just one person. A young woman.

This woman, a teenager living in Nazareth, was betrothed. That means that her parents had arranged for her to be married. Marriage in that time meant that one set of parents would approach another set of parents and they would work out a deal for their children to get married. The man’s parents would pay the bride price to the woman’s parents, a contract would be signed, and the man and the woman would be legally married. Quick, easy, and completely without the say of the woman. It was a contractual transfer of property from one party to another, and the woman went from being her father’s property to her husband’s property.

This young woman, Mary, was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter, also from Nazareth. It wasn’t necessary for the transaction that she had ever met her new husband before, but being from the same town, she probably at least knew who he was. This situation had to have filled Mary with the fears and hopes that anyone would experience in her situation. On top of the fears and nervousness of being married to a man she had not chosen, she was an Israelite, burdened with the constant desperation that all of the people felt for a savior.

All of this changed when this young woman was confronted with an angel of the Lord. In that one moment, her entire world changed. She had been chosen. God Himself had chosen her to give birth to the Son of the Most High. The savior that her people had been waiting for, longing for, was finally here, and she was supposed to be His mother. She was legally married to Joseph, but until the actual wedding celebration, still probably many months away, she remained a virgin. Yet God Himself was going to plant a child within her womb.

Can you imagine the state that Mary was in? Can you imagine the things that would be said about her? Pregnant before the wedding. Her new husband had every legal right to send her to be judged and executed for breaking the marriage covenant when she was found to be pregnant with a child that was not his.

Yet all of this: the state of her people, her fears and nervousness, the scorn she would face, the potential execution, it was all bearable because of one thing. Hope. God Himself had chosen her to bear the Good News, the child that was to save the world. Mary chose to trust God and acted in faith and hope.

As we move forward in this advent season, we must understand that we bear the same hope that Mary did. We too bear the Good News. We as the church have been chosen. We are pregnant with the good news of the gospel. God has called us to take the good news of Jesus Christ’s advent to the world, and it is the hope of his coming that allows us to bear all scorn, hatred, trial, or persecution that we may face.

Like Mary, we must bear the news of the savior to the world around us. We must share the good news that a savior has come and is coming again, a savior that will set all things right. A God that is not distant and cold, but a God that understands our pain, our suffering, and our struggles. A God who stepped out of heaven and came to us, bringing hope and love to a world in desperate need. A God whose name brings us hope. Immanuel, God with us.