If I asked you to define Christmas with one word (apart from the words Jesus and Christ), what word would you choose? Would you use peace, love, joy or some other word? There are a number of words we could use in describing Christmas; however, I want to focus on the word hope. Christmas is hope!
Hopelessness is such a dreadful thing. The past two years we have seen two events that seemed hopeless, the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Such events breed a hopeless feeling. Those were dreadful events. Prior to the time of Christopher Columbus people thought the edge of the horizon was the end of the world. They thought you dropped off of the world as if you had arrived at a steep bluff. Some people see life that way, as if it chops off. They think life, as you see it, is the end.
One of the major messages of Christmas is the hope found in Jesus Christ. He is God’s hope. For a text I want to read Luke 2:36-38. “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (NKJV)
In this text we meet a senior adult lady by the name of Anna. Anna was 84. She was living in hope. The word hope is not used in this text but the concept is present. The highlight of Anna’s life was to meet Jesus, who represented hope for God’s people. She was a senior adult in years but a child at heart. She teaches us the secret of growing older without growing colder. She had learned to see light in the midst of darkness. She had seen the true message of Christmas. Christmas, for her was the hope of Jesus Christ.
I want to handle this text by considering a definition of hope. Then I want to consider the place of hope and conclude by discussing the power of hope.
I. Let’s define Hope.
Webster’s dictionary does not distinguish the world’s definition from the Bible’s definition. It is important that we distinguish the two.
A. Webster’s definition represents the world’s definition of hope. Two of Webster’s definitions describe hope as the world sees it. The definitions state that hope is “a feeling that what is wanted will happen; desire accompanied by expectation.”
There are two words that weaken the world’s definition. One word is “feeling”. If I base hope on a feeling my hope is subject to be disappointed. Let me give you some examples of the shallowness of feelings.
-If as girl says “I hope my boy friend gives me a diamond ring for Christmas.” Does the feeling bring about the hope?
-If a man says “I hope my football team has a good year.” Does the feeling guarantee a good football team?
The other part of the world’s definition is a “desire accompanied by expectation.” Let me give you some examples of the shallowness of desires. They cannot give hope.