We who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. -Ephesians 1:12
Hope: you can’t live without it.
You can exist without it. But a human life with purpose, meaning, and direction requires hope.
A saccharine, sentimental hope will not do. Real life in the real world requires hope with guts and grit.
Real life wears us down. In the prayer book we are taught to pray as “we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life” (BCP 133). When I learned that prayer, I wasn’t surprised that I was wearied. Rather, I was relieved that I could admit it in the presence of a loving and compassionate God and in the communion of a Church praying common prayer.
I’ve learned in the deep aches of my heart that I can’t live without hope. Thank God it’s almost Advent.
Advent is a season redolent with hope. It may be the season of hope. For hope has to do with expectation and desire. And both Advents of Jesus, his first Advent as a baby and his second Advent as a victorious King involve expectation and desire.
We sing, regarding his first Advent,
Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art:
Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.
We sing, regarding the anticipation of Jesus’s second Advent,
Joy to the world! the Lord is come: let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.
The first song is an Advent Hymn. The second song is a Christmas Hymn.
The combination hymns highlights the two-fold hope of Advent and the context in which Advent hope alights.
The promise of Advent comes to those “wearied by the changes and chances of this life,” those looking for something more, something better, something that doesn’t disappoint. That something is someone, Jesus.
Jesus, source of the song of heaven and nature, satisfies desires and fulfills expectations. His fulfillment exceeds and expands our hearts, gifting and gracing us with eternal purposes for eternal living now, “in the time of the mortal life.”
“Our King and Savior draweth nigh: O come, let us adore him.”