I want to make a quick note about the content of this post. Advent is a relatively new idea for me. I grew up in the church, but I don’t remember Advent being explained or observed. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, which is very likely. Either way, I am still learning and understanding the meaning of advent. Below is where I currently land with it.
Hope in the Advent Season and the Christmas Story
Advent means “the arrival of a notable person thing, or event. Advent defined within the christian faith means, “the coming or second coming of Christ”. And adventus is latin for “coming”. So when considering hope within these two definitions, there is a hope for the coming or the second coming of Christ. Christ birth was the marked the fulfillment of his first coming. Without giving a deep history lesson here, the jewish people were waiting and hoping for the Messiah. Christ was born and some people knew who he was. During his life, Christ was rejected because the Pharisees were expecting the Messiah to be different, to act different. He wasn’t what they were hoping for, but that was because they misunderstood what scripture was saying. This led to them manipulating scripture to fit their understanding and then create laws under that understanding, which led them to crucifying him.
After Jesus died and resurrected, Christ followers now had and have a new hope: for his return. But this doesn’t Jesus left them with a command to love God and love others as themselves. (Matthew 22:37-40).
But what are we really hoping for? That he actually comes back? I think that is part of it, but there is more. We hope more for the implications of his second coming. We hope to be with him someday in his full glory, but also maintain that he is with us now, even though we don’t physically see him. Paul makes a great point in explaining. He says that hope in what is seen is not hope at all. “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience” (Romans 8:24-25, ESV). We are hoping for the redemption of our bodies and the fullness of freedom to be realized as adopted sons and daughters of the Creator God.
When considering the 4 themes of advent, some people and traditions follow a liturgy that has hope following directly after love. Without love, there is no hope. Without hope there is no peace. Without peace there is no joy. Going a little deeper, we can’t hope for what we don’t know and don’t believe. Therefore, if you don’t have faith in God and his love, then hope looks very different throughout your life. That’s another topic for another day.
So again, how I see hope is a progression and integration:
Love → Faith → Hope → Peace → Joy → Love etc.
We (followers of Christ) have hope because of what we believe. What we believe is in the love of a Creator God who loves his creation so much, that even when we do not deserve it, he sends it in the form of Jesus, his Son. His love is so great that Jesus was sent to be crucified for our disobedience and he does so willingly. Jesus is the physical image of God, the image of the love of our Heavenly Father. Since this love is a gift, when we believe it and receive it, we experience hope to be fully redeemed with him.
It would do us a disservice to forget why hope is necessary in the first place. Hope was inaugurated once Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate of the apple. Before that moment, there was no need for hope. Everything was in perfect order. There was no hope for redemption. Once they disobeyed, hope came into existence. We now hope for that perfect order to be restored to it’s original design and our relationship to God to be fully redeemed. We are currently living in the “now, but not yet” time where the kingdom of God can be partially experienced through the Holy Spirit, but we will not fully experience it until Jesus returns again. We hope for that full restoration where there is no more pain and suffering. We can’t see it and we don’t know when that will happen, so as Paul says, “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience.”
SIDE-NOTE: Waiting does not mean sitting around and doing nothing. Jesus commanded us to love god and love others. This requires action and discipline while we wait for His return.
Hope: Where and How That Theme Has Been at Work In My Own Life
When I think of hope, the first thing that comes to mind is a question: What am I hoping for? I hope for many things. I hope for my business to be successful. I hope to be married. I hope to have kids. I hope to travel to Europe finally. I hope to fly fish in Montana. I hope for my student loan debt to be paid off. I hope to be freed from all my insecurities and personal vices. I hope to be remembered as a God-fearing man who loved God and loved others.
I can’t say that I hope often for the return of Christ. I don’t think too often about that. I think more about what is happening right now and in the near future. I’m not say this is healthy or not. To be honest, I hope more for the things I want. I’m pretty selfish. However, hope as changed for me recently. Where I have seen this shift actually take root and change the way I live is in believing the truth of who I am. If I say I believe in God, then I must believe in who he is, what he is capable of, what he desires, and how he feels about me. The crucifixion proves how he feels about me and what he desires for me. With this new understanding and acceptance of his love for me, I Hope to be with him because of his love. This hope to be with him leads me to obey what he asks of me; love him and love others. This changes how I live my day to day. I desire deeply to reveal the love of God to the people around me. This is the kingdom of God at hand; The Creator’s love revealed through his creation.
My hope has been rebuilt upon the redeeming work that God has done. His redeeming work includes my identity and him reminding me of who I truly am and whose I am. I now have a hope to be the man God calls me to be and do the things that God asks of me. This hope, which comes from love, leads me to obedience.
My Hope For You
I feel like I can go on and on about the implications that God’s act of love has on your life and ability to hope. But know this without a doubt, because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, you can trust that God loves you deeply, desires to be with you, and asks you to obey him because he, the Creator, knows who you are and he knows what you need in order for you to live more fully into who he is shaping you to be. He left a part of himself with us.
The truest thing about you is that You are a child of God and God desires to use all of you, strengths and weaknesses, to reveal his love to the world so that they can receive his love, have hope, and experience peace and joy. God invites you into his redeeming work to experience his love so that you can show his love.
This is my hope for you. I hope that you receive and experience God’s love like you have never experienced before and to allow his love to transform your mind, soften your heart and redefine your identity to reflect what’s actually true. Remember that God is the redeemer and is actively redeeming creation to it’s original design to experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God more and more until he comes again.
What are you hoping for?
Instagram: @trigg // @theintegrated
Education: Bachelor's in Sociology, BIOLA University 2010
Career: Back of House Manager at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee and Costa Mesa Founder at The Integrated Life, Inc.
My personal life mission is to support people in their journey of becoming who they were created to be and discovering what they were created to do. Where there are people there is opportunity. The Integrated Life is a program I am developing as an avenue to fulfill my mission full time. Check out the website and subscribe to stay up to date for when we launch our products.