Lighting the Advent candle of Hope on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023.

“From the Hart” Devotional for Dec. 7, 2023

“Waiting in Hope”
by Julie Hart, Director of Connectional Ministries

We believe; we have seen; we have received the Promise of the Great Gift; and so in the midst of darkness and imperfection, we hope.

This is the first week of a short Advent season this year. A couple of weeks ago, Pastor David preached a sermon to prepare us for the coming season of Advent. He was preparing us to prepare for the season of preparation. You know how in school when your teacher repeated something three times it was secret code for “you better write this down because it will be on the final exam!”? I’m thinking this is something that Pastor David wants us to pay attention to.

The word Advent translates to “The King is coming!”, which means we better get ready! Having been on church staff for so many years, I can tell you that we start to prepare for the season of Advent when the temperatures are still in the triple digits! This is an important time in the church, and we certainly want to be ready, which means rehearsing the music, making the Chrismon tree ornaments, ironing the pageant costumes, folding bulletins, scraping the candles, and, well you get the point. There’s a lot to be done by staff and volunteers here at church to get ready to welcome our guests on Christmas Eve.

So, what about you? How do you get ready for Christmas? As we prepare to celebrate the coming of our king of kings and lord of lords, it is easy for us to busy ourselves in preparing the spaces of our homes more than the places in our hearts. That’s why I think it is good to start the season of Advent focusing on Hope. This is a week of hope in a season of waiting. When the candle of hope was lit on Sunday morning, we heard “We believe; we have seen; we have received the Promise of the Great Gift; and so in the midst of darkness and imperfection, we hope.” Let me say that one more time. We believe, we have seen, and we have received. We believe in God’s promise. We have seen God’s miracles. And we have received God’s grace. So of course, we hope!

We start the season of Lent focused on hope. But here at Desert Spring, hope is a part of all of our days. It is one of our core values. Pastor David is always reminding us that our best days are yet to come. We are always excited to see what God might do next, not just during the season of Advent. The candle of hope reminds us that we are waiting for something special to happen — not the big sale, the epic party, or the gift that we really want, but rather the coming of the Messiah.

Most of us have been through many Advent seasons by now, but can you imagine what it must have been like for those who first waited on the birth of Jesus? What must Mary have thought at her young age waiting for her child (and our king) to be born? What do you suppose she did as she waited?

Here are some questions for us to think about as we wait and prepare to celebrate, holding onto the hope that can only come from the Lord:

• Whether we are waiting for something good to happen, or waiting for something that we have been dreading to happen, why is waiting so hard to do?
• What are the things that you are currently waiting for?
• What are the things that you are currently hoping for?
• Are they the same things?
• What emotions do you feel as you wait?
• How do you think your life will be different once the waiting is over?

Lord God,
As I enter this season of waiting, I come to you full of hope. I have hope in my tomorrows because of the blessings of my yesterdays. Even when I fall short of my promises to you, you keep every promise made to me. My hope comes out of your faithfulness. Help me to take the hope that you have given me to those who have lost their hope in the world and their faith in you. Let the candle of hope that was lit in the church live within my heart and shine through my actions in this season of waiting. I pray that this very hope will make way for the peace, joy, and love that come from you.