The Advent Wreath is a circular wreath with four outer candles leading up to Christmas, and at the center is the Christ Candle. As we enter into our first week of advent we remember, and look forward to Hope. The first understanding of Hope is the Hope we have that has been fulfilled through the birth of Jesus. The scriptures attested to a coming Messiah (savior) that would save us from our sins, and that Hope has been fulfilled. Christmas is as much about what we have already received, we have received forgiveness through a loving God. Since we celebrate what we have received Christmas should be a time where we ask people, not “What they want for Christmas” but ask “What have you already received through Christmas?” Some might argue “Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is for?” But Christmas has a narrower focus; we remember receiving first and only the Christ/ messiah/ savior Jesus who is Emannuel (God with us). If we ask our children, our family, and our friends “What have you already received?” we are remembering the Hope that we have.
This leads us to then ask not “What do you want?” because we have already received much, but we ask “What will you give?” Imagine our wish list being full of things that we hope to give. I am not simply talking about the lists that we have when we give to our family, but a list to give to those who really need. A list to give to those without lights, presents, cracking fires, warm apple cider, a list to those who have not heard of this Hope that we have. Yes this may still leave our pockets penniless, but it will not have the holiday hangover effect as aforementioned because this is the reason, the purpose of the season. Our list does not, and should not only be full of tangible purchasable items, so this could help our financial health. While food and necessary provisions are good to give in the season of Hope, giving love, care, a listening ear, or just time is of greater value. The best thing we can give is news of the Hope that we have. Have you ever shared the Hope that you have? What better present can we give than Hope? There are so many people without hope, so many lost, so many wore down by the meaninglessness of the Holidays, and yet so many times we miss the opportunity of the greatest gift we can give, Hope. We are afraid that it is a present people do not want, that they may want to return it. However, we may be surprised at how many people have been waiting for this exact gift.
If I give a new Cadillac, Wii, or iPod to a friend, and they do not like it, it is not because I gave a bad present, it is because they are either spoiled, ungrateful, or simply not able to accept an extravagant gift. If we share the Hope we have, the good news (gospel), if they turn it down it is not because it is not a good gift, because it is the greatest. If someone turns down one of our gifts it does not mean we stop giving, so why is this true with our Hope? If we are turned down once or twice, we give up all together in sharing. But let me assure you, this Hope is the greatest present we can give, better than a Tickle-me-Elmo, Wii, or any new shiny automobile. We need to be reminded of how great a thing this Hope is, and how it transforms. When we remember what we have received through this Hope, we are reminded at how great of a present it is to give.
Our Hope does not end with what Jesus did two thousand years ago, we also have a continual Hope. We have a Hope that Jesus does return, and when he does he will restore all things. We will be made new!!! What Hope we have!!! What great things we have received!!! Can you share this Hope? If not we need to ask ourselves why? Have we made our Hope too small? Is our Hope not large enough to change all creation? Share the Hope that was Jesus coming to us as a child. Share the Hope that is, forgiveness and love. Share the Hope that is to come, complete restoration and reunion with the creator! Avoid the Holiday Hangover, receive the greatest present, and give something of true value, Hope.