Here we are only a few days from the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Children can hardly contain their expectation and excitement. Adults still shop for that last gift, holiday aromas ooze out of kitchens (some kitchens!) and guest rooms are being prepared for the imminent arrival of friends and family.
But all is not glitz, glamour and glory. Here in the U.S., while many rejoice in recent election results, others experience fear, sadness and depression. Children fight cancer, buses poised to deliver refugees from Aleppo are bombed, bodies and minds age, children and adults are killed as trucks plow through Christmas markets, and families are divided with rancor instead of united with respect and good will.
Was the world much different into which Jesus was born? Religion was divided, political domination was rampant with burdensome taxation, between rich and poor existed a chasm, women were second-class citizens, often akin to slaves.
And a baby is born in obscurity, swaddled with homemade cloths, tucked into the animals’ feeding trough and—despite this contrary reality—God commissions angels to herald the birth with the message that “good news of great joy for all people” has just arrived!
Christians have the choice to believe a greater reality than the ugly and evil reality that surrounds us. We do not deny what we experience or what we know is happening in the world, but we choose to believe that in Christ was and is great joy for all people. Until we see that fulfillment, we are commissioned to work steadily and with faith to bring about what many of us pray each week: that His Kingdom will come on earth, even as it is in heaven.
For followers of Jesus, hope becomes a lifestyle, one closely tied with faith. And faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. No, we’re not kidding. We walk in hope these days before Christmas. And always.