Summary: At times life can be difficult and even dark, as we prepare for Christmas and Jesus’ second coming we gain hope not by relying on this world but on Jesus. This Advent sermon explores what it means to be a hope receiver and a hope deliverer.
As we begin the start of the church year,
our first Sunday of Advent encourages us to look at being hopeful.
This week I read a story about a lady called Susan Duggan.
Susan Duggan is a lady with hope.
Not because she’s had an easy life or she has received great rewards.
Listen to part of her story.
"The last ten years of our lives have been somewhere between tiresome and sheer hell. This is the litany.
During the last decade one of our children was born with a heart defect. Our business collapsed. We lost their home, and the one we were able to move into was burnt to the ground. For a little while I thought I had the ideal job teaching in a country school, however I was assaulted by a parent, and instead of the school supporting me they supported the parent because it was close knit community. Amongst all this I found out how nasty supposedly nice Christian people could be, especially behind my back. I then had a nervous breakdown which affected my health for 3 years. Then just as I was recovering my husband badly hurt his back."
And yet despite all this Susan Duggan has hope.
She goes onto say,
Even on her worst days she clearly knows God is with her helping here through the mess she is experiencing.
She says even when there is no room left in your heart for hope,
it is still there because God is holding it.
And as Christians our hope doesn’t come from what we have achieved, what is happening or even what we have done in this world.
But the true lasting hope that we hold onto comes from the future God has created for us.
It is easy to be hopeless when we are swamped with negativity.
Sometimes I dread looking at the news.
They are full of bad news…
Financial markets in trouble.
Problems with the government.
Businesses going bust.
Superannuation funds declining.
Another airline crashing.
And the list seems to go on and on.
Now we would have a problem if our future depended on our life being good now.
But it doesn’t.
Let’s put our life into perspective.
Problems are not the end of the world.
At times they can feel like it.
But they are not the end of the world.
Our life and future does not depend on life being good now.
Our life and future depends on God and what he offers.
A question I have asked you to think about before and I ask you again to think about:
What is the focus of your relationship with God?
Is your relationship with God so you can gain things from God
or is God and his ways of life your focus?
This is an important question.
When our relationship with God is based on God and his way of life
problems and difficulties are put into perspective.
We see them as part of life, as something God is with us through.
And our gospel reading highlights that when bad things happen it is a sign.
It is a sign that Jesus is needed.
It is a sign that Jesus’ second coming is getting closer.
That is where our hope comes from.
When bad situations occur we are a lot like the whales that were beached at Stanley this week.
No matter how much they flipped and flopped around they couldn’t rescue themselves.
Like those whales we need someone to help us through the difficulties of life otherwise we will die.
And the Good News is Jesus promises to rescue us, not just some of us, but all of us.
So when bad situations occur, look beyond the situation
to Jesus to help you through that situation.
And today’s Gospel reading also gives us an indication of how to live so that Jesus hope is visible.
Listen again to verses 33 to 37
33 Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
This reading highlights that we have two roles in preparing for Jesus second coming.
First of all is to be alert.
We are to be ready for Jesus to come again.
Are you ready for Jesus to come again?