Second Sunday of Advent: “Proclamation of Hope”
There is excitement in the air! But only a few chosen ones could sense that excitement, and I hope that we belong to the chosen ones because we are in the Season of Advent. Just to be excited, to your right and to your left where you are seated is a blessing of God in your life. Someone is here to cause you to be excited. Someone is even more glad that we are here this Sunday morning! His Name is Jesus! God is excited for us because we are here today!
Advent is here! What is Advent? A mother and her 8-year old son were walking along their street one day in early December, when they came across their neighbor. The neighbor expressed to the mother, “For this Advent season, I am going to abstain from posting memes in my Facebook page.” As the neighbor passed on, the mother turned to her son and said, “Son, let me explain to you what a meme is….” The son replied quickly, “Mom, I know what a meme is but what is Advent?”
What is Advent? What is it all about? We know Netflix, we know how to flex, and we know how to upload and download; but what is Advent? What is this Season that is seemingly so important? What are the two candles that are now lit in this Advent wreath on a furniture which is only added in the altar throughout the whole Christian year? What is the significance of all of these?
Many people today are unaware, oblivious, and ignorant of this Season which is supposed to come to prepare us for Christmas. There must be a reason that it was placed there. There is something awesome about to take place in the realm of the Spirit, and yet many are insensitive to it. Perhaps it is why zombies today are very popular because our liking for zombies is a mirror of the state of society that we are in today.
The general theme of Advent is HOPE. Hope for something great to happen. Hope that will pierce the darkness that has shrouded the human lives who live in desperation, and who are looking for answers and relief to come into their lives.
I was in the hospital in Carmona to visit a brother in Christ who was in the ICU. There was a family who witnessed me giving Holy Communion to the wife of our brother. We prayed, and after this, I went to the family on the other side and I asked if I could pray for their mother. The daughter was stone-faced and said that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I told her, “It doesn’t matter. We have one God who is our healer, and I would just lift her up in prayer.” When I said this, something happened in her face and something changed in her countenance. The desperation was seemingly gone and she had a smile in her face.
People are desperate for answers. “O Zion, bring good tidings. Get thee up into the high mountain and sing, ‘Proclaim to a desolate people the coming of the King.’” Centuries before Christ was born, wisdom has already given a very simple truth that describes man’s condition today. It is found in Job 8:13 where TLB translation says, “Those who forget God have no hope.”
People are now desperate because they have forgotten God. This is no different from the nation of Israel, about 2000 years ago. A momentous event was about to take place, an episode in the history of humanity which will change the course of man’s situation forever. Yet, even though it was earth-shattering and crucial as it may be, it happened at a time when the entire world was sleeping, partying, busy, consumed with many other mundane things in life. There was no room in the inn. The world was busy and consumed with their own agenda. Every Sunday, 800,000 people occupy one mall in the city, and how many malls do we have? What Church has that same number in attendance on a particular Sunday?
This is the reason this character brought to the picture the story of Advent. His name is John the Baptist – one of Advent’s principal figures. Today, we look at him, a prophet sent to Israel at the time when Israel was too busy to pay attention to God’s action of saving the world. They were too busy to recognize God's saving action. John the Baptist was heaven’s wake-up call to those who were sleeping. He was the strange, weird, rugged and rough personality to shake the existing condition.
John the Baptist was a voice of hope in the wilderness of Judea, but he is also the voice of hope in the wilderness of people’s lives today. There were three things that John the Baptist cried out for during his coming. First, he cried out for change - a change of lifestyle for the better. It is normal for human nature not to welcome change. We want the status quo. We would rather stay as we are. This is true when people want to diet, to exercise or even to just wake up in the morning. It is inertia, which is the tendency to resist change, even, if it would improve our lives.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “18 And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into His glorious image.” We are changed into Christ's image when we change every day, but we have to start it. It may be difficulty but it is a call and a cry.
The second cry of John the Baptize was is action - actions that will produce positive results in our lives. As typical human beings, we want to talk about our problems, our difficulties, and hardships, but we do not want to take action to solve them. The first step is usually one of the most difficult effort we can make. 1 Peter 1:13 New Living Translation (NLT) “13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.” John the Baptist cries for action. Get ready! Prepare the way of the Lord and produce fruit. Change and put it into action.
The third cry of John the Baptist is: a cry of inspiration. It may be hard to change, to take action, but we have a Helper, the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water, but soon, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” This is the Spirit that we have to change, to take action. On our own strength, it is hard and difficult, but with the power of the Spirit of God, we can! Romans 15:13 New Living Translation (NLT) says, “13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Change, action and inspiration develop hope in our lives. How do we develop hope in our lives? Romans 15:4-6 Contemporary English Version (CEV) says, “4 And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope. 5 God is the one who makes us patient and cheerful. I pray that he will help you live at peace with each other, as you follow Christ. 6 Then all of you together will praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Holy Bible is not a fantasy or a fairy tale. It is not something to decorate our homes. It is Holy Scriptures that produce hope in our lives and to make a difference.
We want to change, but we can’t. Have we read Scriptures? We want to take action, but we can’t. Have we meditated on the Word of God? We want to be inspired. The Word of God is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is clean, it makes the wise simple. The fear of the Lord is true, rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the Lord are right and giving us inspiration.
These are things which God has sent to give us hope because the King is coming, and He gave us His initial pasalubong so that we can enjoy His coming. Unless we know from whom the pasalubong came from, the excitement would not be intense. Know the King and we will be excited for His gift! We can know the King by reading the Holy Bible. Every day, read Holy Scriptures! Resolve to take action and open God’s gift for us to know hope in our lives!