The hope of Christmas

Published 6:01 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2018

It’s here! Well, Christmas Day is still a few weeks away, but the season that celebrates that day is here.

Everywhere we go, we see the evidence in red and green, ribbons and bows, and millions of lights. Even billions of lights.

This past Sunday, the opening hymn was “O, Come All Ye Faithful.” Between now and the Sunday before Christmas, we’ll try to get them all in. There are many “Joys to the World” to sing about before Christmas Day. That’s not even counting the “Jingle Bells,” “White Christmas,” and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”

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Donna Sue and I (more Donna Sue than me) have been watching 24/7 Hallmark Christmas movies since Halloween. I tried to use the remote to change the channel from Hallmark last week and it spoke back to me. “I’m not working anymore!” LOL.

The theme for last Sunday’s message was “The Hope of Christmas.” It was inspired by the Candle of Hope that was suggested for the first Sunday in Advent. I looked up the hope of Christmas on my laptop and the first thing that popped up was a sermon by the late Billy Graham.

There was a glorious picture of Cliff Barrows, his venerable crusade worship leader, George Beverly Shea, the greatest male hymn singer of all time, and Dr. Graham. Barrows and Shea were decorating a Christmas tree, while a thin, young, and smiling Billy Graham looked on.

Under the picture, Dr. Graham was quoted, “Christmas should be a time of renewed hope—hope in Jesus Christ.” We lost Dr. Graham this past February. Thankfully, we never have to lose the hope of which he preached, the hope in Jesus Christ.

Christmas is a time to think about that word, hope. There are two ways to look at it. The first is the way we use hope most often. We use it as a way of wishing for something that we might, or might not, have the possibility of getting.

This year has held, for us, quite a last quarter. Remember October 10 and Hurricane Michael? Of course you do. The evidence is still with us as large cut trees and their accompanying limbs are everywhere, right next to our roads. With hope in mind, we hope that the debris will soon be cleared. It will. We just don’t know when.

Believe it or not, even at this late date in the year, many hundreds of acres of cotton and peanuts are still to be harvested. We hope for weather to enable our farmers to close out their year. It won’t be what they had hoped for, but we still hope for the best.

In that same vein of desire, we hope for good health. We hope for food to eat. We hope that our cars and trucks will get us to and fro with safety and dependability.

There is so much we hope for and it is good to be hopeful, even when we have little control of our hopes.

But hope has another definition that is superior. It is the hope that we celebrate during this time of the year. As Dr. Graham put it, “Christmas is a time for hoping—in Jesus Christ.”

That is not a wishful desire. As the world might say, “That is a done deal.” He definitely was born and He definitely lived. In fact, He definitely still lives!

In a year when many hopes have been dashed because of a storm, Christmas is a time for renewed hope. That hope is the same as it was 2000 years ago. It was real then and the real hope of Christmas will be the same forever!