Advent is one of my favorite times of the year. The four weeks leading to Christmas give Christians around the world an opportunity to reflect on the coming of Jesus with hope, peace, joy, and love.
For four Sundays leading up to Christmas, Christians light a candle on the Advent wreath. Then, on Christmas we light the Christ candle in the center of the wreath to symbolize the arrival of the Light of the world in the baby Jesus.
Last Sunday, we lit the hope candle. Hope is a word we hear a lot around Christmas, and like everything, can lose its power if used casually. When I was a child, I would hope the gifts under the tree were the things I circled in the Sears Christmas catalog. I would hope I remembered all the words to my part in the children’s Christmas program. Now I hope the roads are clear of snow and ice as loved ones travel to gather for Christmas. But I have never known the intense hope that John the Baptist had when he encountered Jesus for the first time while they were both in their mother’s wombs.
“For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”Luke 1:44 (ESV)
Even as an unborn child, John knew Jesus and leaped for joy in His presence! And when he did, John’s mother Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth knew her cousin Mary was carrying the hope of the world, and so did her unborn son, John.
This event reminds me of words in a familiar Christmas song:
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!from “O Holy Night”
Some of the assignments God has given me lately have taken a toll, and I am weary. You too? Then pray with me today, that the Lord will fill us all with the thrill of hope John recognized in the Savior – even before either of them were born.