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Summary: Hold on to the rope of hope when you don’t think you can cope.

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All I Want for Christmas is Hope

Luke 2:38

Rev. Brian Bill

12/23/07

Hark, the Herald angels sing,

‘Glory to the newborn king;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled’

[Put hand on Hope’s shoulder and hold up blanket]

Yes, God and sinners reconciled.

If we were to take a survey today we would find that hope is hard to find during the holidays. I invited someone to today’s service and when he saw the invite he said, “Looking for hope at Christmas? I need hope all year long.” It’s tough to sing “Joy to the World” when there’s so much junk in our lives. Some of us secretly wonder if it’s really true that the “hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”

[Walk around drama set]

Is Christmas all about baking? Or is it wrapped up in football and food (Go Packers)? For some it’s such a sad season that they can barely talk about it. Or is it all about shopping? Some of you have been crushed by something that has happened in your life and you’ve lost all hope. I understand some of you are here today because you were friends of Craig Cole and you’re still hurting because of his loss. We’re glad you’re all here today.

Definition of Hope

Hope is not only hard to find; it’s difficult to define. Some equate hope with an optimistic feeling that all will turn out well. We hear this every spring from Cubs fans. For some it’s wishful thinking whether it’s related to the weather: “I hope it’s nice today” or a general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled.

That reminds of Larry and Elmer who were out hunting in the woods and got lost. Trying to reassure his friend, Larry said, “Don’t lose hope. All we have to do is shoot into the air three times, stay where we are, and just hope that someone finds us.” They shot into the air three times, but no one came. After a while, they tried again but there was still no response. They decided to try once more but not before Elmer said, “I hope it works this time. We’re down to our last three arrows.”

It’s easy to get hurt when our hopes are high and they come crashing to the ground. I can remember one Christmas when I was growing up that I really wanted “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” so I could see if “Red Rocker” or “Blue Bomber” would win. This classic toy came out in 1966 and is still available in stores today. I dropped hints everywhere. I wrote letters to Santa and cut out pictures in magazines and put them on my mom’s pillow. I even tried extra hard to be nice to my sisters during the countdown to Christmas – which wasn’t easy to do!

When Christmas morning finally came, I jumped out of bed and ran to the tree. I looked for a box with my name on it. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find it. Do you know what I got that year? I’ll never forget it. My mom, who loves to sew, made feetie pajamas for all five of us kids – my sisters had pink ones, and mine were blue. I could barely take the shame of it all…feetie pajamas instead of rock-em-sock-em-robots. I’m still waiting for them to this day. My hopes were dashed. I was a living example of Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Some of you have lost hope today but it’s not just because you didn’t get a present you wanted. Your life has been decimated by disappointment and your expectations have evaporated.

I came across a couple Bible-based definitions of hope that are very helpful: Hope is a future certainty grounded in a present reality. Here’s another one: Hope is wishing for what God has already promised us. The Bible says in Isaiah 40:31 that strength is renewed for those who hope in the Lord. This word is more than just a wishful optimism.

In the Old Testament it means “to bind together, often by twisting.” It refers to the process of making a rope by taking at least two strands of material and twisting them together. Understood in this way, hope means that I bring my pain to the Lord on the one hand and on the other hand I hold specific promises of God. To hope means to wrap my problems together with God’s promises [hold up two ropes and wrap together].

We could say it this way: Hold on to the rope of hope when it’s hard to cope. Ecclesiasts 4:12 adds God’s provision to His promises and our problems: “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The third strand is the Savior, Jesus Christ, born on Christmas, crucified on Good Friday and raised on Easter. He is heaven’s child, the hope of the world. With Him wrapped around our lives, we are safe and secure [hold up red rope and wrap it around the other two].

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