Tonight, you can look around and see the lights and wreaths and Christmas trees and know that something special is coming. You can look at the children sitting near you and see that they can’t contain their excitement; it flows out of them in extra bounce and wiggles and laughter. For kids, this whole season is full of the anticipation of great things happening. They go to the mountains to pick out a Christmas tree, and drive through McAdenville to see the lights, and sip hot chocolate as they cheer on the downtown Christmas parade.
There is so much to see and do, and any one of these activities is enough to get excited over. But, the funny thing about Christmas is that these are only the prelude to the big event—Christmas morning. Every one of these kids you see around you will go to bed on Christmas Eve with the sure knowledge that when they wake up, there will be presents under their Christmas tree for them.
Advent is a time of waiting, of anticipating with great excitement the coming of a time that will fulfill every hope and desire of your heart. For children, they believe this time to be Christmas morning with its gifts and family and friends that love them. Children expect great things to happen.
As we grow older, our expectations change. Our hopes and desires go much deeper and have grown much bigger, but we fight against an underlying pessimism that they’ll never really be met. We’ve been disappointed enough times that it’s hard to believe in anything really.
But then there’s Christmas, and hope and belief seem to fill the very air this time of year. Over 2000 years ago, hope was born into a world that was weary and discouraged. There were few who recognized it—his mother and father, a few shepherds and wise men, an old man and a widow—but hope can exist even when it’s only a tiny light in a vast darkness.
Each of you was given a candle when you came in, which is probably one reason the kids are so excited right now. It looks small and fragile, unimpressive, but in a little while, we’ll dim the overhead lights and one tiny flame will light another, and another, until the whole room is filled with the glowing warmth of candlelight.
Like candlelight, hope spreads because we have seen the light of God brought by the tiny baby in a manger, and we in turn share it with our neighbors until it lights the whole earth.
The hope that we share is the truth of God’s love for us, that He would send His son to pay the debt for our sins, so that we might at last anticipate with great excitement His coming again to fulfill every true hope and desire of our hearts.
Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.