There’s a line from O Holy Night that has been running through my mind this month:
A thrill of hope …
Hope, after all, is what makes this whole thing go.
Hope gave Abraham the vision to leave his home for a promised land, descendants who would outnumber the stars, and a God who would be his.
Hope helped Joseph survive when he was sold into slavery in Egypt, and it gave him the courage to rise to second in command in the country so he could save his people when famine came.
Hope let Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, blood still dripping from their doorways, to walk a path through a dry ocean bed, walls of water towering above them.
Hope made Rahab harbor Israelite spies, and hope knocked down the walls of Jericho.
Hope gave Ruth the tenacity to choose her people and her God, and it gave Boaz the love to become her kinsman redeemer.
Hope pushed David to confront Goliath, lead his people, and recover from the worst thing he would ever do.
Hope spoke to Isaiah the words to prophesy of a coming Messiah, a Prince of Peace would be called Immanuel.
Hope gave Esther the courage to risk her life obtaining an audience with the king so she could save her people from being wiped out.
Hope asked Mary and Joseph to embrace their fears and end up in a cold, dirty stable where they would give birth to a son who would change the world.
Hope brought shepherds and wise men to worship.
Hope let Simeon and Anna see with their physical eyes the fulfillment of the thousands of prayers they had offered with eyes of faith.
Hope helped Jesus hang on the cross to die, and that hope was fulfilled three days later when the stone rolled away.
If a human heart has no hope to hold onto, the darkness can become overwhelming. But if we have hope, even just one flickering ray, that pinprick of light can fight the darkness, pushing back and pushing forward until it explodes into the full light of day.
Jesus is that pinprick of light.
His life, death and resurrection mean that we always have hope, that even death will not have the last word because we wait with expectation for his second coming that will make all things new.
We celebrate his birth today because without it, we would have no hope. So open your presents, enjoy your family and gather around the table to feast together, declaring your hope in the everlasting God, the maker of heaven and earth.
And if you have no presents to open, if your family is gone, if there is no feast on the table – don’t lose heart:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
We were ruined sinners, and now we’re redeemed saints. A thrill of hope, indeed.