Bible Finding Hope this Advent

Finding Hope this Advent

Christmastime is here, happiness and cheer!

I want to start by saying THANK YOU to all who came out and helped decorate the building for the Christmas season. You are awesome, and the place looks great. We have a lot of exciting events and services through Christmas – so it is so great to have it look the part!

The first event is our Light It Up! After Party – THIS SATURDAY – after the Atlantic Highlands tree lighting (at 4PM, so the party will start around 5PM). We need 2 things for Light It Up: (1) some more people to bring cookies, and (2) you to talk it up, invite others, bring neighbors and friends along to Light It Up! on Saturday. Kids – and adults – will love it!

But this Sunday also marks the official first Sunday of Advent – and with it, we kicked off an Advent bible study series with both the women’s and men’s studies.  I encourage you to come next week!  

If you missed it though – no fear – we’re following along with the Bible Project’s Advent guide, and each week diving into one of the four Advent words (hope, peace, joy, and love). This week, the focus was on hope.  If you missed it – watch the video that we used to kick off our study. 

In each of the studies, we saw that the character of Christian / biblical hope is different than the way the word “hope” is used in general (i.e., I hope you have a good day, I hope the Giants win, I hope things get better, etc.).  That’s more like optimism, good-will, or merely wishing for something.

Christian hope – biblical hope – is different.

It is not circumstantial (i.e, wishing circumstances would change). Rather,

Christian hope is personal. 

Christian hope is in the Lord – specifically, waiting for the Lord, and trusting in his provision, timing, and care. Christian hope is in the risen Jesus, who is the first fruits of our own renewed life. Christian hope trusts in God that God knows what He’s doing, is good and loving and merciful, and is actually active to help and save. So Christian hope allows us to wait for God in the tension – with patient trust. And that means that we can respond to the tension and ‘depths’ of life differently – with hope – because in a very real way, we know the end of the story: it is new life in Christ. And so we wait for God in the meantime.

Easier said than done, no doubt. 

For this Christmas season, to be renewed in Christian hope – there’s 3 things I’ll suggest you do:

First, watch the Bible Project video on hope.  

Second, think back on all of the ways God has already been faithful to you…going all the way back to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – in order for you to move forward in hope (again, watch the video!). Maybe take note on your phone or in a journal of some of the important ways God has proven himself faithful…and from there, allow those reminders to inform how you respond in hope going forward..

Third, read Psalm 130, as we did in the bible studies. Reflect on how the psalmist responds, reflects, waits, and prays in hope. Try re-writing or re-praying it in your own words as a way to strengthen your hope. 

Those are some brief thoughts on hope. May you be filled with it throughout this Christmas season! Join us next week at bible study – or in our Central Thoughts – as we dive deep into “peace”. 

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