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The Advent season of hope reveals God's promise to us

Columnist Colleen Hoeft says the season of Advent is a special time of waiting for promises to be fulfilled by Immanuel.

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Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

We hope and wait for a lot of things. We hope today is better than yesterday. We hope our favorite team will win the game. All sorts of things and events are hoped for.

Timex took a survey in September of 2012 on how Americans spend their time — and how much of the time is spent on waiting.

Here are five things we hate waiting for — and how long the average person will wait for those things before we take action:

  1. A car in front of you at a green light, 50 seconds. 
  2. People to stop talking in a movie, 1 minute, 52 seconds  
  3. Parents to quiet down a loud baby, 2 minutes, 41 seconds.   
  4. Late coworkers, 3 minutes, 54 seconds
  5. Waiting at the doctor’s office, 32 minutes

Christmas didn’t make the list but it seems to be a difficult one to wait for. The stores are in such a rush that the Halloween candy was barely put away before the Christmas candy and decorations were out. Thanksgiving is only remembered by sales on turkey and stuffing in the grocery stores. I do love Christmas but as you and I get older it seems like it gets here faster and faster — not slower.
The dynamic of waiting is what set up the first Christmas over 2000 years ago.

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It began with a promise. From the very beginning in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah prophesied, “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).  

There are hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament: “He is coming!”

Between the time in the Old Testament and the New Testament there were 400 silent years before Jesus Christ was born. During this time, many people gave up waiting. Maybe you’ve had times where God seems quiet and inactive that you’ve wondered, "Why am I doing this? He is taking too long." Been there? I think we all have.

The waiting: Luke’s account begins before the birth of Jesus with the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. We are introduced to Zachariah and Elizabeth, two righteous believers. They had been praying for a child (verse 13) their entire married life and yet God hadn’t answered their prayers.

The hope: Zechariah sees and hears an angel. Don’t miss the significance of this supernatural event. For 400 years, there had been no prophecies, dreams, visions, angels or heavenly experiences of any kind, and now Zechariah sees an angel — an angel with a message. The angel said, “Your prayer is heard.”

This is how the whole Christmas story begins — before Jesus, there was John the Baptist. John’s job was to bring people back to God. To help people regain their hope — to prepare their hearts to believe. Without hope we won’t recognize the answers to our prayers.

God calls us to hope. "He has given us both his promise and his oath, two things we can completely count on, for it is impossible for God to tell a lie. ... This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven,” Hebrews 6:18-19.

We may not understand or know the timing of all His promises, but we know Him. When you begin to doubt, when you think God has forgotten, hang on, check the chains on the anchor — they are holding. Trust Him. Wait on Him. You are not forgotten. His promises always come true.

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Colleen Hoeft is the pastor of South Troy Wesleyan Church in Zumbro Falls.

From the Pulpit" features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, email us at life@postbulletin.com with "From the Pulpit" in the subject line.

Related Topics: FAITHFROM THE PULPIT
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