Written by Tony Ashley
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Romans 5:1-5
Back in October this year I was invited by a small local funeral director in east London to discuss the quality of service they provide. During the meeting, the director shared an observation she had made when she reflected on all the funerals services they have facilitated. She noted that the most tense and angry funerals were the atheists. She could not understand why. I explained for an atheist, there is no hope once someone dies. It is over! This is it! No more! There is no hope beyond death! Even I would be angry if that were my belief system!
We are now approaching this advent season with the baggage of a global pandemic that has caused so much upheaval in everyone’s personal lives. At it has touched us all. Many would argue that all that we have hoped for this year and beyond has been eradicated in one foul swoop. Sickness, death, loneliness, unemployment, financial difficulties and much more has acutely affected our spiritual and mental wellbeing at some level. Yet it is notable that society will cling in the hope that this Christmas season will bring respite from this dark and cloudy experience. However, the premise is that we all will have to double down on our efforts to overcome this pandemic over the come months and for the foreseeable future. But we can hope.
Fortunately, our hope is not just wishful thinking on things we would dearly love to have. Our hope is anchored securely on the promises of God and his faithfulness and assurance to complete to the end what he says he is going to do. When reading Romans 5:1-5, there is this great sense of anticipation and joy as our hope in God as we realise that the Messiah’s entrance brings an assurance of redemption not solely for the Jews in that biblical era; but for all mankind here and now and all generations to come. Our hope in God forms and shapes our formidable Christian character and in return makes the Christmas season a focal point for looking forward to our future with Christ.
This hope goes far beyond our own lifespan. We celebrate Christmas because Christ’s birth gives hope for our marred and fallen world; and his death and resurrection yet again reinforces our continued hope, ensuring that it exceeds the boundaries of any life challenges we face including death.
During this Christmas season, as we look back at the events of the year that we have persevered through; let us take solace and remember that our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and his righteousness. Let us be mindful of the hope we have that brings us ultimate peace this Christmas and beyond.
Amid all that has taken place this year, we recognise that you have been with us every step of the way. We thank you for your everlasting presence and love during our times of difficulties.
We have been afraid, lost and hurt and we have had to say farewell as we helplessly watched our loved ones depart this earth.
In everything we must continue to give you thanks. We thank you that we have a firm hope in you that enables us to endure all we face; because your Son, Christ Jesus came on Earth so that we too could persevere to the end.
May your grace continue to rest upon us all. May your everlasting love comfort all who reach out to you. May your great wisdom guide us through our journey on this Earth and may our hope be anchored in you in the knowledge that you will never leave or forsake us now and forevermore.
Tony Ashley is a Baptist Minister at Stoke Newington Baptist Church
This post is part of an advent series. Twenty-Four diverse voices have been invited to share some thoughts on one of four themes (Hope, Peace, Joy and Love) each day during the season of Advent. Each contributor has been given just one theme and no further parameters – they may write as much or as little in the style of their own choosing.
If you haven’t done so already Sign up for reflections direct to your inbox.*
*After 24th December 2020 you will continue to receive the latest blog posts from thebrokenchurch.net, you can unsubscribe at any time following the link at the end of your email.