Hope isn’t just for Christmas…It’s for life!

Another year over…that’s how the popular Christmas song goes. And we’re nearly there again! Entering, as we are now, into the month of December, we begin to take stock of the year that has been and prepare for the holiday celebrations that close the year off. But for many people, Christmas is about so much more than the closing of the year, wonderful food and presents. All these things are great and help to make the month special, but it’s a time to think about others, about bigger things. Higher things. The season of advent is a way that many like to mark the countdown to Christmas. This past Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent and is all about hope. In many Christian denominations, they will light the Hope Candle, to illustrate how hope came into the world at Christmas for all.

Let me explain.

For the lowest of men…(and women!)

One of my absolute favourite parts of the Christmas Story is the part about the Shepherds. Really?! I hear you ask. Well yes. When you understand the culture of Israel and the surrounding areas, the story of the Shepherds is wonderful.

It is often a misconception that shepherds at this time were social outcasts. What is more accurate to say is that they were very isolated people. Staying with their flocks they would spend much of the year with little to no company as they searched for the best grazing pastures for their sheep. Cut off from society in this way they would have probably been seen as different. Poor, without material wealth and few friends, the shepherds were their own culture in a way. And yet, they were the first to hear the Good News of the birth of Jesus. The Angels came to the Shepherds, the people at the bottom of society, the lowest of men, and not to the highest of Kings. What does that tell me? That hope is for everyone, and not just for Christmas!

Hope is quiet

Whether the first Christmas happened in mid-December or another time of year is irrelevant. The themes of Christmas are not to be hemmed in with tinsel and baubles. Hope came that first Christmas into a world in turmoil. Occupied by the Romans, the people of Israel were oppressed and looking for a saviour. I’m pretty sure they weren’t expecting a baby, but the humility of the birth of Jesus was the whole point. Hope cannot be given to all if it comes blaring, in your face, and in pomp and ceremony. True hope is quiet, humble, relatable, and free. Therefore it is for all. At any time. In any situation.

The film The Nativity Story beautifully captures the part the Shepherds play in the first Christmas. It was the lowest of men who met Jesus first. It was the isolated and quiet who told people first of the new hope. Can you imagine? The hope you would feel knowing God had come down and you were the chosen few to meet him first. I find it mind-boggling!

Watch the clip below to watch the scene of the Shepherds. Or why not click the link above and purchase the movie. You’ll love it!

Finding hope today

Hope. Choose hope. Christopher Reeve. Pinterest. Advent.

Fundamentally it’s a choice. If you seek hope you will find it. If you find it, you will be able to give it to those who cannot find it. It’s in the random acts of kindness. It is in the darkness as well as the light. The Shepherds found hope that first Christmas because they believed the promises of old. No matter how bleak our situation may seem, we can always find it. If we are determined, watchful, and ready, hope will present itself. Often through unexpected means too. And sometimes through the acts of kindness of others.

Our world today is in turmoil: mandates, war, disease, violence, hunger. I could go on and on. But if we are to find hope in the darkness we have to seek it wholeheartedly. The Christmas Story is the personification of hope. When all seemed lost, hope came into the world for everyone. I know that many people don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, and that’s their rightful choice, but what is unnegotiable is the impact He had on so many. The hope that was brought into the world all those years ago is still yours today.

hope. martin luther. christmas. advent. Pinterest.

Whatever you put your hope in, wherever and however you find it, cling onto it, and be generous with it. It’s not ours to keep. Hope is a gift that we can be flamboyantly generous with. At any time of year. Keep your eyes open for hope, take it into your soul and then look for the people who need it and give them the gift of hope this Christmas…and all through the year!

The Nativity Story Shepherd’s Scene.

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