A festive message from the minister of Well Street United Church.
Ask a child and the hope may be for this year’s must-have toy. Ask a young person and it may be the latest smartphone or iPod. Ask an adult, and the hope may be for quality time with family and friends.
All of these things can be enjoyed. Yet this week’s toy becomes next week’s cast-off, this week’s gadget is soon superseded by something new, and even time with family is ephemeral – it doesn’t last forever. In other words, our hopes are not always matched by the reality.
Is there a hope we can have for Christmas, which will not fail? Is there something where the reality is even better than what we hope for? I believe there is! Even better, I believe that God offers us this hope as his gift this Christmas.
We often find hope in the birth of a baby. Parents (especially the mum), grandparents, brothers and sisters, family and friends – all rejoice in the gift of new life. Two thousand years ago, God sent to humankind his gift of hope through the birth of a child. The Bible tells the story: this child was born in humble surroundings, to a virgin named Mary who had conceived by the Holy Spirit. To those not ‘in the know’, he would have seemed an ordinary boy. Yet the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament repeats what were well-known words from a prophet who was around at least 500 years before: ‘In his name the nations will put their hope’.
This child, of course, was Jesus, and at Christmas we celebrate his birth. Christians believe that in him, God came to share in our humanity, and that he came to teach us how we can live fulfilled human lives. Through him, we can know the love, compassion and forgiveness of God our Heavenly Father. By him, we are offered the hope of eternal life.
Whatever other gifts you receive this Christmas morning, my prayer is that you all receive the Gift of Hope.