Every year at City Church, we try to emphasize all the different aspects of Advent. It is a season to look backwards with ‘hope realized’ in the birth of Christ as well as looking forward with ‘hope expectant’ to His return. Hope. This is a word that comes up over and over again throughout the Bible. It is a word that appears over 80 times in the New Testament. What is interesting is that many commentators agree that the Greek word we translate into the English as hope is not the best translation. The reason for that is that the English word for “hope” involves uncertainty. For instance have you ever used this phrase in response to a question: Well I hope that it’s true. You’ll notice that there is uncertainty attached to that statement. But the Biblical understanding of hope – authentic hope—isn’t found just in the result or the outcome. The Biblical understanding of hope is also found in the anticipation of what is about to happen. It hasn’t happened yet but the certainty is known.
There’s a great scene in The Lord of the Rings film The Two Towers that illustrates this point. Towards the end of the story, during the battle of Helm’s Deep, you see the race of men are overwhelmed by the number of their enemy and they are losing the battle. But just when the fight is at its darkest hour, off to the east the dawn is breaking and the white rider, Gandalf, rides with reinforcements and they sack their enemy. But with a scene like that the hope isn’t found just in the result. The hope is also found in The anticipation of what is about to happen. It is the anticipation or rather the expectation of hope that changes us. But do you know why? Because now it is our present reality that is (once again) connected to the expectation of our future hope—made real in Christ. As people who are living between the Advents, between the first coming of Christ, the day we celebrate as Christmas and the Second Advent, the second coming of Christ we now do so as ‘hope-based’ creatures. This is how we are to process and handle the circumstances of life that we face in between those two events. We are to be shaped now by our ‘realized’ past and our ‘believed in’ or certain future.