I've spent a great deal of time pondering over the question of what to do about Christmas. It is the first Christmas without my husband. There is sadness just in admitting that fact. One thing is certain; Christmas at our home will look different this year. I’m not going to do a lot of decorating and I probably won’t bake Christmas cookies. There are several traditions that I think I may skip this year. But there is one thing we did the last few years that I am going to keep doing. I'm skipping the Christmas tree but I have pulled out the Advent set.
Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child. For us, it was a weekly reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and a way to stay focused on God in the midst of the hustle, bustle, busy of the holidays. Each week I would light the advent candle and Bobby would read the week’s devotional thought. We would usually talk a bit about what that meant to us. It was a good little tradition the two of us shared.
This Sunday is week one and today I lit the candle of Hope. Christian hope is not a wishful, maybe-something that might possibly happen one day. Christian hope is a looking forwards with a certainty of knowledge that God is faithful and He keeps His promises. God is hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:15)
Allowing God to fill me with joy and peace has been challenging. I'm learning to be sad without letting the sadness take over and to grieve without being completely overwhelmed by grief.
What does hope mean to me this year? Someone shared Jeremiah 31:4 at church tonight. That verse says, “you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.” I had to smile when I heard those words. I thought of my husband being pain-free, making music and dancing with the joyful in heaven. There is joy in that very thought and I believe it to be true! Hope means that I am able to own that joy and thank God for it.
Whatever your life circumstances are at the moment, I pray that you too will be able to find the joy and peace which the God of hope longs to share with us all.