Friday is the winter solstice. Do you know what that means? Every day from then until the summer solstice will be just a little bit longer. You’re probably thinking, “This is what I clicked the link for? Minor adjustments in the calendar?” I know, maybe on the surface it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. Ever day from now on will not only be longer, but it will have more light. Every day we will have a tiny bit more daylight.
Now if you are in Arizona like me you may not be excited about the possibility of seeing more of the sun (I am), but not everywhere is like that. I grew up just north of Seattle, and every winter it seemed like the days got progressively darker and darker. So, it was a big deal when that first day of sunshine hit. People would put on shorts and flip-flops even though it was only 45 degrees outside. They would risk getting a cold simply to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin. Kind of dramatic, I know, but to them it was worth it.
Why? Why is light so important to us? I think it is because light has always been linked to life, newness, and warmth. There is something “hopeful” about light. The reason people in Washington celebrate the coming of the light is the same reason we celebrate the coming of the light in Advent: hope.
For those who are now thinking “What is advent?” The term Advent come from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. In Advent we celebrate the coming of Christ to the earth, and all that he brought in his “coming.” One of the biggest parts of advent is hope.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Jesus is the light in the darkness. Jesus is who was prophesied about way back in Isaiah 60. I love the song O Holy Night, and in that song is one of my favorite lines: A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices; For yonder breaks a new glorious morn. The whole world was waiting for hope, and in one moment the thrill of hope came to the earth.
The kind of hope that Jesus brings is special. See, all the hope in the world is based in uncertainty. Worldly hope can be a desire of something good in the future, or an object in the future that will bring good, or even the reason our hope needs to come to pass, but all those hopes are uncertain. I can hope a check comes in the mail, or my family makes it home safely, but there is no certainty in that kind of “hoping in hope.” The kind of hope that Jesus came to bring is a certain hope. The hope of Jesus is the confident expectation or desire for something good.
And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our hope can be certain when it is rooted in the faithfulness of God. We put our hope in Jesus Christ and his promises. We put our hope in he who was promised to come (Isaiah 9), who came to the earth as a baby (Luke 2), who saved us through his death on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21), and who has now brought us into unity with him through his resurrection (Galatians 2:20). When we hope in Jesus we hope in a living hope that will never leave us or abandon us.
Jesus came to the earth and we received certain hope. He rose in victory over the grave and we are able to receive his victory. He then ascended and sent the Holy Spirit. On top of it all we have received the Word of God, that is the Bible, which is full of his promises for us. I don’t care what gift you got someone this year, it will not top what the Lord has given us.
Why is this important? Because the world is tough, storms are hard, and we need real hope. We need more than an abstract “hoping in hope” idea based in uncertainty. We need a true hope that can weather a storm and make it through a dark night. We need the certain hope of Jesus Christ. Good news: He has already given it, you just need to be open to receive it.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
My encouragement to you is to put your hope in something certain: Jesus Christ. Don’t try to simply hope in the abstract idea of hope this year. Take a moment to receive, celebrate, and rejoice in the victorious and certain hope that Jesus Christ has brought to you. The days will get longer and brighter, but right now the hope of Jesus Christ can bring light to the darkest days you are facing. Hope in Him.
Pastor Josh Weisbrod