Hope Peace Joy
Every year, people all across the globe get very excited. There's delicious food, holidays with family, and most importantly, presents. As young children, we look forward to Christmas time – or more specifically, Christmas presents.
Then there's that 'it' toy. Each and every Christmas, there's that one toy or one present that is THE thing to get. For example, in 2010, it was the first-generation iPad. In 2013, it was a Furby, and the year after that, it was a Frozen Elsa doll.
And quite honestly, it's not too different from what we hope for at Christmas, except that we're more likely to want a new phone than a singing Elsa doll.
But when we have hope for something other than presents at the end of the year, it seems a little crazy. When I was writing this speech, I asked my friend 'what do you know about hope?' during exam block. She just replied 'that I have none left', before going back to making English essay notes, all in the timespan of about five seconds. On Spotify, the two top results when you search for hope are songs named Hopeless Wanderer and Hopeless. Obviously, things are pretty bleak in music, too.
Of course, my next source of inspiration was the internet. According to Google, there are two definitions of hope. The first type of hope is what we're all familiar with, like saying 'I hope it won't rain tomorrow'. But it's nothing more than wishful thinking, because we can't control the weather, and I'm sorry, but no matter how much you hope, there is no way you'll finish all that maths homework five minutes before class. The second type of hope is completely different. It's an outdated use of hope, but the definition is 'a feeling of trust, like saying that you trust your friend.'
But what about the hope through the Christmas story? This is a combination of the two.
Firstly, yes it's a feeling of expectation, a desire. But unlike hoping it won't rain, or hoping your parents buy you a new phone, it's not a blind optimism, because we can actually trust in the hope through Jesus. In this passage, verse 37 is 'For no word from god will ever fail.'
The name of this baby born at Christmastime is Jesus, which means saviour. It means that Jesus came, not only to rescue us from sin, but to give us a future and a hope through God. And for us at Christmas, it means that just the holidays go beyond the presents we hope for.
The point is that even the most exciting, popular toy gets thrown away. Today, the first generation iPad seems too clunky to use. People will probably get annoyed, not excited, if you start singing 'Let It Go,' and chances are, you'll be asking for the iPhone 11 by Christmas next year. The happiness that comes from a new outfit or a new device simply won't last.
But the Christmas message is one that hasn't changed in 2,000 years. The very idea of hope presupposes that things are not perfect now. However, through Jesus, we can have a happiness and a hope that lasts for eternity.
For us this year, it means that we can have more than the anticipation of receiving a present to hold on to. It means that even in the midst of gift wrapping, holiday business and lunches with the relatives, we can find peace and trust in God. No matter how crazy or overwhelming the Christmas season can be, his word is firm.
And this word is a hope and a trust that goes beyond a chapel service and beyond Christmastime. The angel tells Mary that 'Jesus will be great and he will reign over God's kingdom forever.' He is here to forgive our sins and more importantly, give us hope. No word from God will ever fail.