ADVENT WEEK 1 - Hope: The Weary World Rejoices
Advent Week 1
Hope: The Weary World Rejoices
Emilia Sotolongo Weary.
If there was one adjective to describe the state of my heart over the past few months, it would be weary. Weary as a global pandemic rages on, weary as the news shows more racial injustice, weary as friends and neighbors are unable to work to provide for their families. But perhaps the most wearying of all are the church’s divisive and polarized responses to current events, which is as tiring as it is disheartening. All of us, on a personal and collective level are in desperate need of our Savior. A few months ago, O Holy Night came on in the car. It had been a whirlwind of a day, and the last thing I was concerned with was abiding by cultural Christmas music norms. So, I listened. My breath caught in my throat and my eyes began to tear up as I heard the lyrics, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.” It was into a weary world and to a divided people that Jesus came. While the Old Testament ended at the height of the Persian Empire, the New Testament opens after nearly 400 years of apparent silence from God, in the midst of the Roman Empire’s famous Pax Romana. The intertestamental period between the Old Testament and New Testament was filled with strife between not only the Jewish people and their long series of oppressors, but also within the Jewish community itself. The average Jewish citizen struggled not only to make ends meet, but also to keep the rigorous, daily commands of the Jewish law. I am sure that my weariness pales in comparison to the weariness experienced by the average Jewish citizen living in these times.
I cannot imagine how the Jewish people were feeling, but I often wonder if some of them had given up hope that the Messiah would ever come. Yet God in His infinite mercy and wisdom comes at exactly the right time to fulfill the curse He placed upon the serpent in Genesis 3:15, and the roughly 300 prophecies made about the Messiah in the Old Testament (Genesis 12:3, 49:10; Isaiah 9:6, 53:3-5; Zechariah 9:9; Psalms 35:19; Hosea 6:2). Jesus came into the world, and He is coming back.
Jesus came into a weary and divided world as the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for our sins. All of us are sinners who deserve death and eternal separation from God because of our sins. This is the bad news. The good news is that in His perfect love and mercy, God came in human form to live a perfect and sinless life. For the joy set before Him, Jesus suffered the full wrath of God on the cross, defeating death and taking our place, so that we can stand blameless before God.
In his letter to the Roman church, Paul writes about the hope of glory of God:
“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of glory of God…And this hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:1-5).
We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God; the fulfillment of God’s covenant to restore us and all of creation (Romans 8:19-21; 1 Peter 5:10).
It is an eternal, sustaining, life-giving hope made manifest because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
We hope joyfully and confidently knowing that God is conforming us into Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29) and that when He returns, He will make all things new and perfect on earth (Revelation 21:5).
We hope expectantly for the day when we are face to face with our Creator in heaven, worshipping Him for all eternity (Revelation 5:11-12).
While the weariness of the day may become discouraging to the point of despair, it serves as an important reminder that this earth is our temporary home. The division, strife, suffering, and brokenness that threaten to overwhelm us are part of the reason Jesus came to earth 2,000 years ago. It is my prayer that as we begin the Advent season, the weary world rejoices yet again.