The season of Advent is built around the experience of waiting.
One frequent connection is to the waiting of pregnancy, often observed graphically in Mary’s most literal waiting for the birth of Jesus. Metaphorically, Scripture feeds into this theme with its declaration that the whole of creation is groaning, as if in the birthing process (Romans 8:22).
Regarding the Advent theme of Christian hope, Peter uses similar imagery to vividly drive home its shocking nature:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3-4)
I have mixed feelings about the day of my birth.
One part of me wishes that I could remember the drama of that momentous day, while another part of me sighs with gratitude that the whole thing is blanked from consciousness. However, if we could remember the day, I assume we would recall another mix of feelings.
On one hand, birth appears threatening. A cozy and warm place of safety casts us out into a world of blinding light and shivering cold. Conversely, the limited and limiting womb gives away to a world of wonders, seemingly infinite with immense possibilities.
Peter envisions God birthing us “into a living hope”.
Hope can be an overused word, particularly at Christmas-time, often minimized to little more than wishful thinking. Yet Peter declares that the grand and glorious hope-life into which we have been called is as superior to life without Christ as the vastness of creation in which we dwell is superior to the confines of the uterus.
Said another way, those who are in Christ are granted more than a sliver of optimism or nudge to “grin and bear it” when trouble arises. By the resurrection of Jesus, we are called into a hope that is likened to an unfading, imperishable inheritance of unthinkable wealth.
The carol says that Santa makes his list and checks it twice. Let today be the day that you double check the value that you have assessed to your hope in Christ. Scripture describes it in epic terms, as a hope of such extravagance that we will never exhaust its wealth or worth.
“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” (Psalm 33:20-22)
May His unfailing love rest upon us indeed… as we place our hope in Him.