Dear C and G,
Today I set out the candles in our temporary house. I couldn't find more than two that coordinated, so I found four different candles and set them in a platter. They are each labeled with one of the Advent words - hope, love, joy, peace. I never remember which order they are supposed to go in, and when I search the Internet to find out, I am given a couple of different options. But we start with hope.
Advent comes every year and serves as a reminder of the need to anticipate and the need to hope. We remember when the nation of Israel was waiting for the Messiah and the world was lost in sin and darkness. Advent reminds us of the waiting then, and it reminds me of the waiting now. Jesus came bringing hope because He brought the good news of salvation. He went away, but He promised to return and to give us a new heaven and a new earth. When we think of hope during this season, we remember the hope He has given us - a way to know Him and fully rest in His victory over sin - and we also hope for the day that has yet to come.
We cling to the hope that He will one day make all that has gone wrong right. We cling to the hope that there will one day no longer be autism or cancer or abandonment or violence. The world is still dark, but we know that the light has come and is coming again. We light a candle to remind us of that hope, that truth, for those of us who trust in Him for salvation.
I pray that just as Peter wrote a suffering and persecuted church, that you would prepare your minds for action and be sober-minded and set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I pray that your hope wouldn't be in a political system or a well-rounded eduction or even your own abilities or personality, but that your hope would be in what Jesus has done for you. Rest in that grace, rely on that truth, put your hope in His promise.
1 Peter 1:3-13 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.