Advent Calendar Door #2 – Jesus is…our hope

Posted: December 2, 2015 by leighannegreenwood in Uncategorized

Today’s reflection is by Revd Mary Taylor, one of the Regional Ministers for the Yorkshire Baptist Association, and is the first of a series of Advent reflections based around the Advent candles. It suggests a number of actions or responses, so you may like to set aside some time for contemplation.

THE 1st CANDLE of ADVENT

As we begin to look forward to Christmas, the season of Advent calls us to consider the bigger picture of our faith in God and in Jesus our Saviour. Who is this Immanuel? Who is the God who is with us?

The season begins with lighting the candle of prophecy. It reminds us that God sees and holds our world from beginning to end. It assures us that God is not far away and holding us at a distance, but close and in communication. That is why we can hear the voice of God in prophecy. Our Christmas celebrations are all about the joy of knowing that God kept the prophetic promises and sent Jesus. But we are also called to trust and rejoice that his coming and his coming again shed light and hope over the whole of human history.

 

ACTION
There is much to make us afraid and distressed as we see what is happening in our world right now. It’s a time when we need to have a solid reason to hope.

Why not light a candle and read through this Psalm two or three times?

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
He lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations He has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.’
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from God. As Paul tells us: “And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ 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.” (Romans 15:12-13)

 

ACTION
Ask God for a river of hope to flow through you, making glad the thirsty places in your own life and in the world around.

Think about how it is our hope in Jesus that sets us free from fear so that we can take risks and be generous.

Read what Rupen Das of LSESD has to say about the Baptist Churches in Lebanon (extract from http://www.lsesd.org/Default.asp?DivisionID=12389&DepartmentID=14445):

God is doing something astounding among the churches in the region. In Lebanon, churches who had only believed in verbally preaching the Gospel are now demonstrating the reality of the Kingdom of God through helping those in need and the poor. There are innumerable stories of forgiveness as Lebanese in the churches are moving beyond the hatred they have felt for the 20 year occupation by the Syrian army, to showing compassion to the Syrians. As one pastor commented – as they forgave the Syrians and started helping the refugees, revival came to the church. They are experiencing the reality of Isaiah 58:7-9: “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter? When you see the naked, to clothe them and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

 

ACTION
This is how God is able to change fear and bitterness into generosity and hope. Spend some time thinking about the following questions.

What might God want to do in you and your church this Advent?

What fear or bitterness does God want to replace with generosity and hope?

How will your church join the Yorkshire Baptist family to bless Lebanon?

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