The Christmas season is absolutely my favorite time of the year. I remember when I was a kid, my grandmother and I would drive around the neighborhood, just to view all the beautifully decorated homes. I’ll never forget driving around at night and seeing all those beautiful lights and decorations. I’ll never forget the school concerts where we would sing: We Wish You A Merry Christmas; Jingle Bells; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; It Came Upon the Midnight Clear; Joy to the World; O’ Christmas Tree; O’ Come, All Ye Faithfull; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and so many other wonderful songs. Neither will I ever forget the anticipation and the eagerness that I sensed on Christmas Eve, of waking up on Christmas morning, to open all of my gifts. I’ll never forget the warm embrace from all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives who I hadn’t seen all year long—they would drive from near and far for all of us to have Christmas dinner at my grandmother’s house. But most of all, I’ll never forget the sense of hope that the Christmas season brought to my life and to the lives of my loved-ones and friends.
The Christmas season brings about a renewed hope; a renewed hope for the future; and, a renewed hope for the impossible (or, for what appears to be impossible). Have you ever noticed that about the Christmas season? Pay close attention to the Hallmark movies around this time of the year—there is an underlying theme of hope in all of them. Why? Because the Christmas season brings about a sense of hope. So, I said all of that to say this; let this holiday season bring about a renewed sense of hope in your life; a renewed sense of hope for the future; a renewed sense of hope for the impossible (or, for what appears to be impossible); a renewed sense of hope for broken relationships that need to be repaired; a renewed sense of hope in a dream that once died; a renewed sense of hope in yourself (that you will be able to overcome and conquer that bad habit that you have been wrestling with all year long); a renewed sense of hope in your faith; and, a renewed sense of hope in hope itself. I don’t care how dark the night of despair gets; keep in mind that every dark night has a bright end.
It is my prayer that God (through Christ our Lord) would give you a renewed sense of hope. It is my prayer that this renewed sense of hope would come upon you, suddenly, when you least expect it. It is my prayer that this renewed sense of hope would overtake you and lead you to do things that you never even thought was possible. And when this divine urge moves you to do something; to fix something; or, to finish something…don’t second guess it, just do it—and, be led by the Spirit.
Finally, I’m going to leave you with the words from that ancient letter to the Hebrews (11:1): Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
Grace, peace, and renewed hope!
Pastor Michael L. Sloan