Text: 1 Corinthians 1.1-9; Mark 11.1-10
Intr- I have in my hands an old book, and I wanted to ask you: how much do you think it is worth?
Answers may vary here, but I don’t think I would get, say, a thousand dollars for it, right? It just does not seem to be that valuable. On the other hand, you might say: well price is a matter of adjustment, it depends on the values and desires of people involved in the transaction. But one major thing plays a role whenever a situation like this happens: where does this come from, or to what or whom it is connected?
On the First Sunday of Advent, we think about Hope. We could ask here: how much Hope is worth? “A lot” you might say. Well, what about the hope that we will have 10 inches of snow for Christmas? Hope that your income will double in the next 3 months. Hope that taxes will go down by 50%. What about Hope that this sermon will last 5 minutes only. How real, reliable, and effective is hope in these situations? We know that when hope is not connected to real possibilities, is a weak, void type of Hope. The type of hope we are used to when we hope that the next government will solve all our social problems.
Worse than that, in our seek for establishing our hope according to parameters we can try to control, we try to stablish in on: -Better days ahead / -If we do the right things, future will be better / -Our ability to endure, thrive and prosper / -Money / -Health
The problem here is that we latch our hope on to places and people that cannot deliver it. Hope connected to these places is weak. And the reason is simple: they all can fail. Not only that; they will fail eventually. It is like having your favourite football team starting the season with a college-like defensive line. How strong is your hope that you can make it to the Championship game?
We are not left in the dark about where our Hope is connected to. Paul in the epistle for today underlines our fellowship with Christ. Because Christ crucified is resurrected and is alive, our Hope is alive. Not only alive, but well and constant. The two main reasons are: 1) Because this hope is connected to the right place, right person; and consequently 2) because this Hope has no possibility to fail. It is hope that is just awaiting to come true.
Just like it happened on that Palm Sunday that Mark describes for us. In the Gospel we saw Jesus entering Jerusalem as the OT prophecies. He brings Hope, but he also strengthens hope. Because everything that God had promised was being fulfilled. Hope is strengthened and empowered when we know that what we hope for will certainly happen.
I know you have hope, otherwise you wouldn’t be here today. But that hope needs to be strengthened daily. Hope not fed starves and dies. How do you nurture Hope in your heart?
- First, certainty. Jesus is the Hope that will happen. Christian Hope is the certain future just waiting the right time to come true. You know when you watch a game videotape which you already know your team wins at the end? You kind of relive the emotions, ups and downs of the game, but you already know that your team will be the champion. Christian Hope is reality waiting to come true. Jesus is the Hope that will happen.
- Also: Hoping for the future is strengthened by looking to the Past. We see that in the Psalms, in the prophets, in the NT, in the epistles…IF I can quote one today, here’s Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. The same Lord who fulfilled every single one of His promises to His people in the past, will continue to fulfill His promises to His people today. You and I.
When you fail, when you stumble, when you doubt, when you are on the verge of giving up, have your Hope renewed and strengthened in Him. Go in hope to His Word where He delivered His promises. Go in Hope to His table because he will deliver what he promises – his body and blood to forgive and strengthen. Go in Hope to His Word, for it never fails. Go in Hope to Christ, for he is the Hope that always happens.
This Hope shapes and strengthens your daily life. First, because you will Hope in Him no matter what. Things may change, governments may change, the world may change, your life may change in many ways. God doesn’t change and so His promises. Therefore, you will always Hope, you will always trust because you are connected in faith to the boy in the manger that becomes the man on the Cross and the resurrected Saviour out of the tomb. Hope strengthened gives you resilience, Grace, and peace that Paul mentions (1 Co 1). You go against the grain of a fragile, secular society where hope has weak connections, and you keep hoping and trusting in the One that brought Hope to the World. Jesus. This Hope and no other will lead you home, with the future reality just waiting to come true. Strengthened Hope is a living Hope. Hope connected to Christ. Hope that will certainly come true.
Cc – What if I told you that this book here, that I showed at the beginning, belonged to Simon Fraser, or even to Queen Victoria? Then everything changes and the value of it changes. Depending on where this is connected, it makes all the difference.
Your Hope is connected to Christ. To the World, this may be just another among many options. For us, it is priceless for it has eternal value. Jesus is the Hope that will happen. Christmas reminds us of the past, God fulfilled His promises. Therefore, our hope for the future is a certainty: He won’t stop doing that now.