Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent and so we lite our first advent candle. Advent candles, as you’ll recall from last week, are like a countdown for Christmas. And not only do they build our anticipation for Christmas, but each candle gives us some specific reminders of what Christmas is really all about.
And so last Sunday, we lite the Prophet’s Candle – or the Candle of Hope. This candle reminds of all of God’s promises throughout the Bible. In fact, last week we started in Genesis and ended in Revelation, and through it all, we saw God’s continued and building promises of Hope – a Hope that would be one day fulfilled through the little baby who was born and laid in a manger.
Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, would be born as a human being, live a sinless life, and through his death and resurrection, provide the gift of eternal life for every person on earth! Even though man had rebelled against God and in doing so, had brought death and destruction into God’s good creation, Jesus Christ would put an end to sin and all it’s consequences, and would reign forever as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.
Now of course, not all of those promises have yet been fulfilled. Many have been – but there are a few more to go. And so with that same hope of Adam & Eve, King David, and all the Old Testament prophets – just as they eagerly looked forward to and hoped for the Messiah to come the first time, we too eagerly look forward to and Hope for Christ’s second return when He finally comes to make all things right. What a glorious Hope we have in Christ!
Today we light the second Advent candle – which, as Darian & Mikhayla told us, is the Bethlehem Candle – or the Candle of Faith.
And faith quite naturally goes hand in hand with hope! Hebrews 11 reminds us:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 ESV
To put it another way – hope is our eager expectation of future realities, but it’s faith that gives us confidence in that hope. Faith is the assurance that our hope is not just wishful thinking, but it’s based on something solid and trustworthy.
And so this morning, I want to spend some time talking about faith. What gives us the assurance that what we hope for will actually become reality? Is that perfect world that we talked about last week – an eternity with God where there is no more crying, no more death, no more pain – is that just delusional wishful thinking, or do we actually have good reason to believe that – to hope for that? What is the basis of our faith?