The Candle of Hope
The first candle of advent is the candle of hope.
Hope - a slippery word that one is—used throughout the year to express uncertainty. We make statements like “one can only hope” or “I hope so” - phrases that wish for the best but offer little guarantee. This time of year we see the word engraved on our Christmas cards and embossed in shiny letters on our ornaments. Unfortunately, it’s that uncertain sense of hope that comes to our minds. A word that ought to instill certainty does anything but that.
Hope is an appropriate word with which to decorate the Christmas season. Hope, that is, in its proper sense. True hope is far from uncertain. It expresses concrete expectations, not whimsical, dreamy desires. It is the proper sense of hope that flew off the lips of Zechariah in Luke 1:67-79. He recognized that his newborn son’s birth signaled the coming of the promised seed of David. He exclaimed in verses 68-69, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn for salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” God had made a promise nine centuries earlier, instilling the hope that one day a savior from David’s line would be born. On that first Christmas day, Jesus was born - the one that God promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.
As we think of Christmas, we think of the hope that came with the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have hope because Jesus came, but our hope not only looks back to what happened on that glorious day, but forward as well. We find ourselves in a similar position as Zechariah, anticipating a day when the Savior returns. And so, we hope.