A Time to Gather Up Hopes

[Steve McMillan is the Senior Pastor of Oak Park Church of Christ in Calgary.  He originally posted this article on an Advent Blog in 2004.]

It’s only the second week of Advent and already I am weary of waiting for Jesus.  Waiting is the hard work of hope.  I’ve faced this struggle before.  It’s not that I completely toss in the towel on the  idea that Jesus is coming – I just lower my expectations. I still believe He’ll get here eventually, I’d just rather not bank my life on it.  So instead, I choose to spread out my portfolio of hope. I’m tired of waiting for Him, so I put my hope in other things – rational, common sense things – that I can touch and see – tangible, practical things. I put my hope in the goodness of people and programs around me. I put my hope in advanced technology, modern medicine and whatever goodness and knowledge I can acquire and notice in others. I trust in willpower and potential.  Sure, they may not save me from my sins but they do relieve me of self-doubt and give me some instant payoff.

Perhaps preparing for Jesus means taking careful inventory of the location of our hopes.

We all have an internal hope chest. A place where we store our deepest longings and dreams. Human beings are incurable hopers. It’s why we get married, have kids, go to counselors, buy ab machines, read self-help books, play bingo, go on blind dates, read the Bible and go to church. It’s why kids bounce off the walls on Christmas morning. We are hopers. We hope. We have hopes. On the day when hope is lost, we begin to die – from that day on we are just marking time. The question is not whether you and I have hopes, the question is, “Where have we put our hopes?

In what have I invested my hopes?

When you hope-hunt through my life where will you find my hopes for love, peace, fulfilled dreams, change, Spring, joy, eternity?

Advent is a good time to centralize hopes. Give it a try.  Go ahead and gather them all up together in a big pile and pick the whole floppy, slippery thing up – all the broken hopes, lingering hopes, forgotten hopes and things that you long ago labeled hopeless – then, carefully walk over and place the whole thing on a baby in a manger.  If you can do it you will join a long list of other hopers who have believed that because God invaded our earth in Jesus, the best is yet to come for this messy world and for you and me.

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