The first Candle: Hope.
The first candle of Advent is all about hope.
Think about hope as you hear Lamentations 3: 21-24:
“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in the Lord.”
The book of Lamentations, written by a people in exile with no country to call their own. In that hopeless situation we have the above verses of hope written. A man ridiculed, tortured and abused, the prophet Jeremiah, a man with no hope and in a hopeless situation, no hope except hope in God, wrote the words above the picture.
Gracious God, We cry out to you. We come to you looking for hope. When everything else we rely on fails us, our only hope is in you. When we do not understand what has happened, we hope in you. We can hope for better days because we trust you. We know you and we know you are here with us no matter what we are facing. Some of us see only darkness this time of year. Some of us find life overwhelming. Some of us are filled with Advent joy. Wherever we find ourselves today, Loving God, remind us that our hope is in you. Be with us on this journey. Amen.
The first candle: The patriarchs.
God said, “I am the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob.”
So why do we hear sermons on Abraham, one or two on Jacob. But hardly any on Isaac?
That is because they were action men. Abraham is easy:
God told him to leave his country – he went.
God told him to sacrifice his son – he goes, even though God has promised that a nation would be Isaac’s descendants.
Jacob is the great transformation story. Sly, cheating Jacob gets swindled himself, meets with God and is transformed.
But Isaac, what does he do? He is passive in the Abraham stories, he repeats his father’s mistakes and in old age his son cons him into giving him his blessing. Not good. The thing is Isaac is a bit ordinary. He’s the ordinary son of a great father. He is the ordinary father of a great son. But God includes him; God is the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the ordinary Isaac is included. God likes ordinary.
It does not matter to God if we have the great faith of an Abraham, are transformed like Jacob or are an ordinary Isaac, you are still special to God. In your relationship be yourself, even if you think you are too ordinary to do anything, but we all have this same hope — God believes in you.