The Hope of Christmas

Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua!

With Thanksgiving now in the past, we have officially arrived at one of my favorite times of the year, Christmastime.  I love Christmas for all of the reasons most people love it – the celebrations, the food, time with family and friends, and of course the presents among other things.  However, I also love Christmas for a reason that tends to fade into the background at times.  I love Christmas for the hope it represents.

Many years before the birth of Christ, the moment in history that lead to Christmas, a group of people were waiting for the moment when their hopes would be realized.  In the Old Testament of the Bible we can read many passages referencing the moment when the people of Israel would find freedom.  In Isaiah we read, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” (Isaiah 40:3, NIV)  The people of Israel had spent many years oppressed or in slavery and were hoping for the promised moment when the Messiah came to save them.  As is evident from passages such as the one in Isaiah, there was much anticipation for this moment when they would finally and ultimately be free.  It was this moment that brought hope despite their present circumstance.  For thousands of years, the people of Israel were anticipating and excited for the coming of the Messiah because of the hope it represented for their people and the world.  In a stable in Bethlehem their hopes became reality, whether they realized it or not, when Jesus was born.

Christmas can bring the same anticipation and excitement to us.  We live in a broken and hopeless world that is desperately in need of a savior.  We may not be slaves to another civilization, but we are lost in many ways as we search for something that will fulfill our deepest desires.  It was for this reason that Jesus came into this world.  The coming of Christ was all about bringing wholeness and a restored relationship with God to humanity.  For this reason, Christmas is the perfect representation of hope.  When we could not do anything to save ourselves, God came to this world in the form of a child to be our savior.  For this reason, I believe the time leading up to the celebration of Christ should be filled with the same anticipation and excitement the people of Israel felt as they waited for the Messiah.  Christmas can be a time of hope for everyone who thinks there is not any.  I have found this to be true in my life and I hope you will ponder this in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

More on this great celebration of hope in the coming weeks!

– James Belt

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