by Christopher Harbin

Hope at a Change
Christopher B. Harbin
Isaiah 3:18-4:6; Matthew 8:5-17; Ephesians 4:17-32

Advent is a season in the church calendar, in which we celebrate our anticipation of the arrival of Jesus Christ. We take time to pause in our celebrations and anticipate the coming of Christ at Christmas, but also his arrival in glory. Too often, we forget about Advent and run to celebrate Christmas without giving due importance to the meaning and reason for our celebration. Without reflecting well on the reason for the celebration, we simply remain at the level of festive celebration and rejoicing, abandoning a valid understanding of its meaning--what we have gained in the fact of God coming to earth and Jesus' returning in glory for everyone will accept him in faith.

We have great hopes and expectations. Sometimes we expect things that what would help us. Sometimes our hopes are misplaced, as appropriate solutions come from different forms and sources. The messianic expectations of the Hebrew people were like that. They had a defined concept regarding the purpose and means of God's rescuing them from their difficulties. The difficult thing for them was to wait for God's solution, understanding that God's will and way exceeded their specific expectations.

Isaiah's words were of comfort, but not the kind of comfort that people craved. We feel comfortable, after all, in recognizing around us what we expect to see. Isaiah's message came to contradict what people expected and longed to see happen. They wanted to hear another message. Comfort for them would have been a word of restoration of power to Israel. It would be a political resolution to their anxieties. That was not Isaiah's word, however. Isaiah preached a conflicting word, which in turn should have brought comfort in know that Yahweh was behind the circumstances enveloping the people. There was reason to rest in the recognition of the divine presence and action. The problem was that people were not at ease w ...

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