The Christian Year begins with a season called “Advent,” which means “coming.” Advent spans the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. During this season, Christians recall the long years God’s people spent waiting for Jesus to come into the world. They possessed a deep dissatisfaction with themselves and the world, but a still deeper confidence in God’s promise to send a savior who would mend all that was broken, even breaking the power of death itself. This combination of dissatisfaction and confidence is what the Bible calls “hope.”
Christians, who wait today for Jesus to return and finish the work that he has begun, must also possess hope – that same combination of dissatisfaction and confidence. The season of Advent creates the time and space to cultivate hope in the coming of Jesus and the salvation he will bring at the last day. Hope in Jesus’ certain, final victory also enables Christians to wait expectantly for him to visit them in the present. Even now, Jesus comes to those who hope in him, to free them from their selfishness and to empower them to love.
The first week of Advent focuses on hope. I’ve prepared three devotionals for this week that include a passage, some questions, and some suggestions for prayer. The first will be posted today, and the others will follow on Thursday and Friday. I pray that all of them will help awaken and deepen your hope in Jesus.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13