a thrill of hope

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining! It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas in the traditional sense. Our family exchanged gifts, and by that, I mean my parents gave me gifts, and that was about it. The church culture I was raised in frowned upon celebrating Christmas since we didn’t know when Jesus was really born, we should celebrate His birth everyday, it was taken from a pagan festival, Santa Clause is really Satan Clause, etc. I didn’t realize the rich tradition of Advent that so many of my other friends grew up with and took for granted. Advent is the season of waiting, celebrating the birth of Jesus and looking forward to His return and to understand it, you have to understand what the world was waiting for.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.

For years and years and years, the world lay as a wasteland of sin and depravity and broken relationship. Since the Fall when man first declared independence from God, all of creation groaned for the day of restoration, when things would be made right. You and I both know that everything isn’t perfect, the world does not function and move as it was meant to. We look at pain and suffering and sorrow and know that something is not right.  Israel, God’s chosen people, knew that such a day restoration was coming. It had been promised by God and foretold by prophets and it was their hope! But there was a problem: it seemed as if God was distant and silent. They had been in exile, served under foreign kings and things were not seeming to go as planned. They knew of a promised Messiah, a coming King who would lead them out of captivity like Moses, be a prophet like Elijah, and rule over them like David… But they had not seen Him. So they waited, failed messiah after failed messiah, trusting that God would not back out of His promise. Trusting that He had not abandoned them. Meanwhile brokenness ravaged a desolate world in need of divine intervention. Loneliness, betrayal and rejection ruled earth, and a hopeful few waited…

and waited….

and waited.

Long lay the world in sin and error, pining.

Till He appeared, and the soul felt its worth!

Into this longing and emptiness came a messy, crying baby, birthed into the filth of a barn’s food trough: the fulfilled promise of the Lord, the Savior of Israel and the world! The Messiah Jesus showed up and we discovered that we actually had value and worth as citizens of God’s Kingdom, members of His family, beloved of His creation. Imagine what this meant to a nation that was thinly holding onto ancient prophecies! What this meant to despised and rejected backwater shepherds who weren’t considered anything in society! Angels appeared on the scene to these very rejected and heralded the news that the King had been born!

A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices! For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

This is the significance of Christmas! That God regarded our helpless estate and sent Jesus. Jesus, who is the One that all the prophets and Scriptures pointed to. Jesus, who is the One that our hearts cry out for. Jesus, who is the King of an everlasting Kingdom. Jesus, who is God with us.

This Jesus stepped into time 2000 years ago, into brokenness, pain, and hurt. And He promises to return again. He will reign over His Kingdom, and we are partakers of His inheritance. This is the great news of Christmas. This is the thrill of hope.

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'” – Luke 2:8-11

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