Hope: The First Candle of Advent
This Advent season I’m challenging those of us in ministry to try something new. While we create moments for God to work in others, let’s make sure we make space for God to work in ourselves, too. Use this reflection on your own, with your family, or with your youth group as a way to re-center and focus in the midst of your busy week.
Passages for reflection: Isaiah 64 and Jeremiah 33
(If you’re reflecting with family or youth group, you may wish to choose selected passages from these chapters to read together)
To God’s people, the world must have seemed like a pretty dark place in the prophets’ time. Foreign powers were invading from all sides, carving up the land and sending its inhabitants into exile. People were abandoning their faith, distracted from their worship to God and lured by the quick promises of attractive idols. Those who remained faithful passed on stories of the mighty works God had done for their ancestors, but it seemed like it had been a long time since God had done anything like it.
Then, every once in a while, a prophet showed up. Their messages were harsh, with words of accountability which were pretty tough to take. But then, like a tiny light growing steadily warmer and brighter, there was a promise: God would send a Messiah, a Savior who would be like no other, to save them. He would prevail in the end— they just needed to hold on, and remain faithful.
On the first Sunday of Advent, we think about the word ‘hope’. By reflecting on what it must have been like to be faithful while the world lay in wait for the Messiah to appear, we’re reminded of what our own lives were like before God did His mighty work in us. Take some time this week to give thanks to God for fulfilling His promise in you, and pray for people in your life and in the world around you who need God’s love and light in their lives.
Light your first Advent candle, and take some time to pray together.
Here are three questions to get you thinking and talking about hope:
- What does the word “hope” mean to you?
- Isaiah 64 tells us that God is like a potter, and we are all the work of His hands. How does it make you feel hopeful to know that?
- What has God been doing in your life this year? What do you hope he will do in you over this Christmas season?
Three ways to share hope with others this week:
- Take a walk with someone and reflect back on the year together. Where have you seen some of your hopes fulfilled? What do you hope for the year ahead? Take a moment to pray together.
- Write a note to someone you know who’s going through a hard time, offering them words and verses to help them hold on and have hope. Make sure you send the letter!
- Look around your community and observe where there are people in need. Can you give a little or your time or gifts to respond to one of those needs in the weeks or year ahead?
Rachel Dodd is Director of Youth Discipleship for Kent UMC in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and an MDiv student at Fuller Theological Seminary. She and her husband Carl have been serving churches students and families in England and US for over 15 years, and have two daughters who keep life full of sparkles, adventure, and coffee.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.