Every time I hold a newborn baby – I feel hope. Hope for the family of the child . . . the world . . . the human race. Someone has said that a baby is God’s vote of confidence for the future. I agree! Indeed, a newborn child is the most powerful symbol of hope I know.
Never was such hope at a more significant pitch than 20 centuries ago when Simeon and Anna met the newborn Jesus. (Luke 2:22-40) As soon as they saw the baby Jesus they realized that he was the fulfillment of all of humanity’s hopes and dreams. Simeon was so moved that he burst into a powerful statement of praise. Anna told anyone who seemed interested that the Messiah . . . the Hope of Israel – had finally been born! Jesus’ birth caused Hope to be born in their hearts. Indeed, their actions communicated, “Here’s Hope. His name is Jesus!”
We all need hope, don’t we? Simeon, Anna and their first century world needed hope, and so does our twenty-first century world. The Swiss theologian Emil Bruner said, “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” He is right. We cannot thrive . . . we cannot even survive without hope!
Though Christmas is a wonderful season filled with bright lights and joyful sounds, it is also a hard time for many of us as we remember better days in our past or face the disappointments of our present. The manger of the Christ Child is where we find hope that will sustain us through the difficult aspects of life. Hope that gives life meaning and purpose . . . allows us to get through tough days with courage . . . brightens our existence . . . and helps us to reach beyond ourselves to God. Though hope does not always make sense, it is the reality that lifts us beyond the challenging circumstances of our lives.
So how is it today with you and hope? I'm thinking at this moment of matters like physical health . . . regrets . . . fear . . . broken relationships . . . grief . . . the polarization in our nation . . . the racism that plagues our communities.
This Christmas season brings with it great news! Whatever our brokenness, past or present . . . whatever is going on in our country and world . . . there is hope for you and me. Hope became a reality in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. God broke through the hopelessness of this world with hope in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Hope for the past, present and future . . . for what has been, is and will be . . . for you, me and the entire world.
Simeon and Anna were right. “Here’s Hope. His name is Jesus!”
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference