“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11)
This is the gift of Christmas. The promise of a future with hope. We know so many don’t have hope leading into this Christmas season. It is why Lifeline Crisis Support are answering more calls (and texts) than ever before. People are in desperate need of the hope that Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension brings. We seek hope in many places. We go shopping to express love through gifts, and we do good deeds; we try to buy hope. Paraphrasing the Scarlet Pimpernel, “We seek hope here, we seek hope there, we seek hope everywhere,” oblivious that hope has already arrived, as a babe in a manger on that night so long ago.
I appreciate this quote by Alex Kocman: “One of the myriad reasons I cherish the Christmas season is that it is one of the few times when the songs on the lips of the people of God truly match the missional optimism Scriptures associates with the kingdom of Christ.”
We sing what we believe. We acknowledge “Love came down at Christmas”. We proclaim in “Hark! The herald angels sing” the peace the newborn King gives to us all. The advent hymn “Joy to the world” invites us to receive the joy of Jesus. The peace, joy and love that Jesus brings gives hope. With the birth of Jesus came “a thrill of hope” as the weary world rejoices. We are all weary, and hope fills me with anticipation of what is to come yet. Often, we don’t appreciate how blessed we are with the hope of Jesus anchoring us. So many others long for this hope founded in the peace “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
We have this gift, and we need not keep it to ourselves. We need to share the hope of Jesus abundantly with others.
There is no reason why we can’t be bearers of hope. Good deeds and gifts are great, but they must point to the one true hope—the reason for the season.
All our worship, witness and service is in vain if it is not pointing to the hope of the world. As Kari Jobe, a contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter wrote:
“God is with us now,
Everyone come and join the heavenly chorus,
Our Saviour King is here before us,
All to hear the sound
The song creation sang
When Hope Came Down.”
Hope is here. Let us rejoice and share the good news.
Rev Linda Hanson
Rev Linda Hanson is Associate Director of Mission – Mission Integration, Mission Team at UnitingCare Queensland.