The Advent wreath typically contains four candles representing the four weeks leading up to Christmas, with one candle in the middle symbolizing Christ’s birth. Each Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit as a symbolic way to prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus. Each candle represents a theme of Advent. On the fifth day of each week of this study, we will ponder the Jesus encounters discussed throughout the week through the lens of one of those Advent themes. The first candle in the wreath symbolizes hope.

HOPE

(a reflection from ifequip.com)

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as “cherishing a desire with anticipation,” “to want something to happen or to be true,” “to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment,” and “to expect with confidence.” After reading these definitions of hope, do you feel like you have hope today? If so, where does your hope come from, and what are you hoping for? If not, what is stealing your hope? Living in a world full of tragedies, sadness, death, chaos, hurt, unmet expectations, disappointments, hardships, and more can make hope hard to find at times. Do you have hope for tomorrow? Is it possible to have hope even when you feel hopeless?

This Advent season, we can find hope in Christ—in the fact that God fulfilled His promise of sending the Savior, His Son Jesus Christ, to redeem all of mankind through His life, death, and resurrection (1 John 4:14). And if God was faithful to this promise, we can trust Him to fulfill the promise that Jesus will return one day and make all things right (Hebrews 9:28). In this promise, our hope rests, as we long for the day when there will be no more mourning or death and no need for the sun or moon because Jesus will be the light (Revelation 21:4, 23).

First Peter 1:3–5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We have a living hope hidden within the work of Jesus Christ, sealed within a heavenly inheritance that cannot be destroyed. This is our hope. This is how we continue to move forward even in the midst of a season of hopelessness. We must daily cling to this living hope found in the God of all hope, Jesus Christ.