Theme: Something to Hope For.
Hope is the belief that tomorrow can be better than today. The dream of a better future is something foundational in our faith. The hope of descendants that would outnumber the stars kept Abraham going as he faced uncharted lands. The land flowing with milk and honey kept the Israelites going for forty years as they trudged through the dessert. The hope of a place in heaven is what Jesus offered his followers when speaking of leaving them.
We all need something to hope for, especially when the days are dark. Today will be the darkest day of the year. The sun rose at 7:46 am and will set at 5:01 pm, that is just a little over 9 hours of daylight. Christmas can be one of the darkest, gloomiest times of the year. Everything in life that is not right can be magnified. Broken relationships, past hurts, unsettled business, unmet expectations, disappointments, sickness, loss of loved ones, and unrealized dreams seem bigger. So if you are feeling a bit down or gloomy you are joining countless others feeling the same way.
But one of the great messages of Christmas is in the darkest time of the year God sends hope - God sends His Son. While today is the darkest day of the year, tomorrow the needle starts moving the other way, there will be +.03 more daylight. You may laugh, I chuckled. That's not much better, but it is better. And that is often how hope works, in tiny increments. We really don't need this huge event, we just need a ray of hope. A small bit of hope can go a long way. It may come in having someone to talk to, receiving some encouragement, checking off one thing on the to do list, or simply being able to get out of bed. But it also comes in being reminded that God loves us unconditionally and God has good plans for the future. These are two truths that will never change and will always be sources of hope. While hope means tomorrow can be better than today, it also means I can be better than today. And because of God's unconditional love and knowing He has good plans for my life, there is hope no matter how dark the days get.
Scripture: John 3:16-17 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Prayer: Something to Hope For.
“Heavenly Father, I am so grateful you did not send Jesus into this world to condemn, but to save. Wow, thank you God, knowing you love this world unconditionally and have good plans brings me hope. But Father, I have to confess, even though I know this to be true, there are times when the darkness makes it hard to hope. In these moments, I ask you to help me refocus on your unconditional love and good plans for my life. Help me recall truth and may that truth overcome any downcast spirit within me. I pray you would fill me and others with hope as we look forward to Christmas day and all it means for our world. Point us all to you God, the true source of all hope. In Jesus' Name. Amen."