FAMILY SUNDAY: HOPE

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 3:1-21

The Christmas story begins long ago in a garden. (Yes! A garden.) Many times, we begin the story in the stable. But this means that we enter the story of rescue in the middle. There are a lot of things that don’t make sense. We have to understand why we’re being rescued in the first place. We sing special songs at Christmas time not simply because Jesus was an exceptionally nice baby. The entrance of Jesus in the world was a continuation of the long story of God’s
love for us. In Jesus, we find God with us. And this…is a big deal.

So, the Christmas story begins long ago in a garden. In the beginning, the world was good. People were very good and they walked with God in a garden that teemed with life. Everything worked, because we chose to obey the order that God had set into place. Until one day, we listened to the words of the sly and slithering enemy. We consumed the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The one that God had warned us about. And we began to live outside of God’s order and determine our own. Chaos began to creep back into the world through our choice. We began to hide ourselves from one another. We began to hide ourselves from God. And this broke the God’s heart.

But immediately, God spoke words of hope. Even then, amidst the heart ache. God declared that sin will not have the final say. Sin will be crushed. And what we learn from the creation story, is that when God speaks…the words that have been spoken take form. When God spoke light, there was light. When God told the waters to separate, they separated. When God told the earth to sprout, that is exactly what it did. And when God speaks a word of hope into our lives, hope unfolds. God declares that life will be harder, because of the way we’ve chosen. But God makes a declaration of rescue. A promise for redemption.

There were days when the hope for rescue seemed bright and near. There were days when the hope seemed dim and far off. There was a lot of waiting. But God promised His people, a Messiah. A Rescuer. A Redeemer. And after hundreds of years...God fulfills His promise by coming to us as a small and holy little baby named Jesus.

Advent is part celebration of the fact that Jesus came and it is part longing for Jesus’ return. We still find brokenness and suffering in the world. Sometimes it seems to overwhelm the good. But we cling to the promise of God, that this is not the end. This Advent, we abide in hope.
 

PRAYER

We come to this first Sunday of Advent to pause from the busy-ness. To breathe deeply. To embrace the work that God does in periods of waiting. To witness the darkness illuminated. To abide in the hope of God as we light this candle. We remember the hope that came in Christ, the hope that continually comes in God’s presence among us and the hope of all hopes that is still yet to come. God, help us to understand the significance of our rescue story.
Remind us that our hope is in our relationship with you being made right again. Teach us to walk in your ways.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What is hope?
What are some things that you hope for?
Where do we see hope in our lives?
Where do we see hope in the world?
How can we be beacons of hope in the world?
Is there someone you know who needs to be reminded of hope? Make a card (and/or an ornament) for that person
to remind them of hope this season and deliver it this week.
Can you think of an example of a time you had to wait for something? What was that waiting period like for you?

Josh Kleinfeld