This year, my family decided to start a new tradition and celebrate Advent. I grew up Baptist and, until recently, I didn't really know what it was all about. My friends and I are doing an Advent Bible study and we are learning so much. So, despite the fact that finding pink and purple candles in November is almost impossible, we began the tradition on Sunday night. My husband and I explained to our children what the candles mean and why hope is the first week.
We told them that the Jews has heard nothing from God through the prophets for more than 400 hundred years. Malachi was the last written prophet and he along with all the other prophets spoke on the coming Messiah. Then, all of a sudden, the angel Gabriel shows up and speaks to an old man and a teen age girl. The old man, a priest, is in the Holy of Holies performing his duties. Gabriel tells him that the baby he has hoped for will come in about 9 months time. He cannot believe because he is old and his wife is old and they have been barren for so long. Standing in the holiest place in the Hebrew nation, he didn't believe that God can do anything that He wants to do. How many of us are like this old priest? We see what God has made and done and yet we still can't believe!
Then, Gabe goes to Mary and tells her that the Hope of all the nations is going to be in her womb. He tells her that she has found favor in God's sight! I want God to tell me that, too! Don't you? He tells her, when she asks how(she is a virgin), that the Holy Spirit will take care of all the details. She thinks on it for a moment and then says do to me as you have said. Mary is not some 30 year old woman. She is a 13, 14, 15 year old girl who is betrothed to Joseph. In a time where women had very little standing, she found favor!!! I imagine that she must have been scared and full of questions but she had faith that God could do it! She knew that the nation of Israel had been longing for the Messiah and weird as it was, He was coming! He would be the fulfillment of prophecy spoken hundreds and thousands of years earlier. She knew it! She probably couldn't read or write but she knew the scripture and realized that God had never worked in a conventional manner before i.e. parting the sea, plagues,etc. Why would He do so this time? As she waited and pondered, what were her hopes? Did she hope that she would be a good mother to the Son of God? Did she wonder, like many mothers, if she would be able to accomplish the task set before her? Many of us have hopes for our kids, but Mary knew what the fulfillment of Jesus' hope would be.
What are your hopes for this Christmas season? For the new year? For you? For your family? My hope for you is that you treasure all that God has done for you and for the world! He came to the world as a baby, vulnerable and fragile. "This is such a strange way to save the world!"