Every year, the pastor of our church brings the humorous, yet truthful, reminder that our home nativity scenes should not include the wisemen until after Christmas. Oh….but it’s so tempting to put them there. We grew up with that image of that original birth scene in our heads (nevermind the fact that “three” is never the number of wisemen mentioned in the Bible nor did they look Caucasian but that’s for another blog…) Realistically, they could not have travelled quickly enough on their animals to have made it just in time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And that little detail is actually significant. Because, if the celebration of Jesus’ birth was simply a birthday party, the hoopla would have ceased by the next day. But…this wasn’t just any ordinary birth. It was one that drew the attention of his immediate family, the Jews who heard rumors of the circumstances surrounding his birth, scholars of astronomy, and even put fear into King Herod. This baby signified a hope; a fulfillment of promises told to generation after generation. A restoration between God and his people. In other words: Hope.
The verse that I have been reflecting on in the past two blogs is from Romans 15:13. I reflected on the gifts of Joy and Peace that are found in the life that we celebrate; the source of “Christmas.” These words from Romans are an exhortation/blessing from Paul to the early church as they experienced tension adjusting to their blended cultural views. But they are also Paul’s words to us.
As we unwrap the gifts of joy and peace, we will overflow with hope.
This hope is not only attainable, it’s eternal. The joy and peace we experience signals to us that Christ is living in us. That joy (which is carried for us) and the peace (which comes from within us) results in a hope in a God whom promises to abide with us forever. And it’s a gift from the One who is Hope. Trusting in this God of hope is what led the wisemen to endure rugged terrain in order to behold the promised arrival of the Savior (as promised in Isaiah 9:2, 6-8.)
Our God of Hope came to Earth as a baby to exude hope through all peoples, all times and all places. ALL.
13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (NLT)