THE HOPE OF ADVENT

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.

They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!” – Acts 2:1-8

INTRODUCTION

Advent,” says Pope Francis, “is a journey toward the horizon of hope. Does not disappoint because it is founded on the Word of God”. A hope that does not disappoint, simply because the Lord never disappoints! He is faithful!”

During Advent, we are invited to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord – to wait in joyful hope for His return in glory at the end of time and to prepare for the annual celebration of His birth.

REFLECT

The Holy Spirit’s arrival was a fulfilment of Jesus’ promise and also John the Baptist’s words about the Holy Spirit’s baptizing with fire (Luke 3:16 – John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But One who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.), and of the prophet Joel’s words about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-29 – And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.).

Tongues of fire were the sign of His arrival.

Why tongues of fire? Tongues symbolize speech and the communication of the gospel. Fire symbolizes God’s purifying presence, which burns away the undesirable elements of our lives and sets our hearts aflame to ignite the lives of others. On Mount Sinai, God confirmed the validity of the Old Testament law with fire from heaven (Exodus 19:16-18). At Pentecost, God confirmed the validity of the Holy Spirit’s ministry by sending fire. At Mount Sinai, fire had come down on one place; at Pentecost, fire came down on many believers, symbolizing that God’s presence is now available to all who believe in Him.

RESPOND

God made His presence known to this group of believers in a spectacular way—violent wind, fire, and His Holy Spirit. Would you like God to reveal Himself to you in such recognizable ways? He may do so, but be wary of forcing your expectations on God. In 1 Kings 19:10-13, Elijah also needed a message from God. There was a great wind, then an earthquake, and finally a fire. But God’s message came in a “gentle whisper.” God may use dramatic methods to work in your life—or He may speak in a gentle whisper. Wait patiently and always listen.

A PRAYER FOR HOPE

Heavenly Father,

Advent is a time for remembering and reflecting on the birth of Your Son and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Father, I pray that You will turn our hearts toward You as Christmas approaches.  Let us not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season this year and miss the chance to celebrate the gifts of hope, peace, joy, love, that You sent to us on that first Christmas day!

Father God, every word in scripture points to the gift of hope that we have because of Christ Jesus.  The Christmas story wasn’t the beginning of that message of hope because the old testament is full of glimpses of Your plan to redeem Your people and restore them into a relationship with You, but we are able to truly begin to see and understand just how great Your love for us is when we read the story of Jesus’ birth in Scripture.

You showed us a glimmer of that hope as You chose to send Your Son into this earth through a family tree that was a little bent and scarred.  We glanced it again as You chose a tribe that was small and a city that was lowly. We are grateful that You didn’t send Your Son to be birthed in a fancy palace among the wealthy and the elite, but our King of kings and Lord of lords was born among common shepherds and livestock in a barn.

The family wasn’t ideal.  The surroundings weren’t grand.  The situation wasn’t without its’ difficulties, however, You came in the midst of all of that.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  God in the messy.  God in the dirty.  God in the difficult and the troubled. 

Your plan to redeem and restore mankind was to dwell among us, fully God and fully man.  You chose to come to earth enrobed in the fragile soft skin of a newborn baby and set aside all of the glory of heaven for one purpose.  You came to be with us.  You came to love us.  You came to die for us, so that we might live.

Help us to see that You are with us.  Nothing is too difficult, too messy, or too dirty for you.  Jesus came to give us the gift of eternal life through the salvation that only you, our Heavenly Father, can give when we believe in Your Son, repent of our sins, and confess Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

That first Christmas, You gave us the gift of hope wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  Thank you, Father, for your immeasurable gift.

We are bold to pray like this because of this precious name of Your Son and our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. With thanksgiving Amen.

MHB 150 – THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE

1 Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,

When Thou camest to earth for me;

But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room

For Thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

2 Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,

Proclaiming Thy royal degree;

But of lowly birth cams’t Thou come to earth,

And in great humility.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliot, 1836-1897

Remain Blessed!

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