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First Sunday of Advent – Hope

2007 December 2
by Julie Clawson

Some hoped for a warrior. One who would come to overthrow the Romans. A great and might King who would stand above the masses and once again bring glory to the nation.

Some hoped for a purifier to come and cleanse the nation of it’s sin. One who would enforce the laws and punish those who transgress. One who could motivate a nation to toe the line of legalism and save themselves through piety.

What they got instead was a baby. God incarnate indeed, but God incarnate lowly, poor, and vulnerable. And a kind of hope that those obsessed with delusions of grandeur or religious fervor could barely comprehend, but which echoed in the hearts of the oppressed desperate for any hope at all. The type of hope that the one who bore this child understood when she proclaimed –

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.” Luke 1:46-55

Jesus came as the incarnation of this hope for the brokenhearted. He urged us to love others and bring freedom to the oppressed. He healed the sick and ate meals with outcasts. He offended those calling for violent revolution and scandalized those upholding the letter of the law. But he proclaimed hope.

On this first Sunday of Advent we are called to remember that hope. To celebrate the incarnation that brought hope to those who had never dared hope before. But celebrating doesn’t mean just saying a few nice words or a prayer of thanksgiving. It means being that hope. It means as followers of Christ expressing his incarnation by being his hands and feet. By healing the sick, by setting the oppressed free, and bringing good news to the poor. Hope must be tangible and make a concrete difference in the lives of those who need it for it to be real hope. Let us not just proclaim hope, but be true harbingers of hope as we seek to live in light of the incarnation.

The words to one of my favorite carols of the season, O Holy Night, capture a bit of what this incarnate hope can look like in our lives –

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Related Posts –
Advent Synchroblog
Advent Blogging 2007
First Sunday of Advent 2006

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. December 2, 2007

    I completely agree – we must take our realised hope and use it to make a difference to those without hope. I am particularly challenged in this area given the proximity of world AIDS day to the beginning of advent. Declaring hope must be linked to action – otherwise our words are hollow and insincere and worse still fail to give glory to God.

  2. Jen permalink
    December 3, 2007

    Julie, can I copy this entery in its entirety to use in my WMF project of prayers and purpose? I will porperly site your work of course. Thanks. See you in a month!

  3. December 3, 2007

    Thanks for you post today… it reminded me about what Jesus did first when he started his ministry. In the opening chapters of Mark, you see that while John the Baptist was out there calling for people to change their ways, repent and prepare yourself for heaven, the first thing Jesus did was gather a few friends to go out and help people get through another day in the here and now… aiding a man possessed, an older lady with a fever, a man with leprosy and then a paralyzed man. Of all things Jesus could do – what he chose to do first was to invest time with some strangers who were hurting. A good lesson for us all.

  4. December 3, 2007

    Jen – no problem. I look forward to seeing you soon and hearing all your stories!

  5. real live preacher permalink
    December 3, 2007

    Thanks for these beautiful thoughts.

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