Summary: When we look out in the world at this time of year, we realize we have allowed our hope to be hijacked. It’s been hijacked by the materialism of the season, by the parties and overeating or even overindulging. It’s time to take back hope. It’s time to gro
Christmas Conspiracy: Reclaiming Hope
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
Let me ask you a question this morning: what is Christmas? Is it eating too much, going to too many parties, shopping too much and spending too much? Is it about giving and receiving gifts Is it about family get togethers? That’s what a lot of people think of when it comes to Christmas. It’s seems that Christmas has been hijacked by our culture and lost its meaning.
Throughout this season of Advent, we are going to be looking at the book of Isaiah. Isaiah really has one job as a prophet and that was to prepare God’s people for the coming reign of the Messiah. At the time Isaiah prophesied these words, only darkness, gloom, and despair was on the horizon. It was a time of great political turmoil. The people around Israel lived in constant fear, with foreign powers threatening to conquer Judah and carry them all off into slavery. One moment they were being pressured into an alliance with a nation, and then the next that same nation was turning on them and threatening their borders. It was a time of, great uncertainty and the sands of the political landscape were continuously shifting. They see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom. In other words, hope had been stolen from them.
When we look out in the world at this time of year, we realize we have allowed our hope to be hijacked. It’s been hijacked by the materialism of the season, by the parties and overeating or even overindulging. It’s been hijacked by the rush to spend more than we can afford and by the fighting of the crowds in the stores to get all of the Christmas shopping done. It’s been hijacked by the focus of the season on self. We need a hope that’s not built on gifts and gift cards but one that’s built on Jesus. It’s time to take back Christmas. It is time to put Jesus back in the center of this season and all of its activities. It’s time to take back hope. It’s time to ground our hope in the only true source of everlasting hope there is: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given….” It is time to reclaim our hope in Jesus Christ!
That leads to a question: Do you believe Jesus can change the world? Do you believe Jesus can change the world? In the midst of such dire circumstances, Isaiah pins the hope of the entire nation, of a complete turn-around of circumstances and total rescue on the simple birth of a child. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.¨ 800 years before there was a manger, 800 years before there wisemen, 800 years before there was a star which hung in the sky, and 800 years before an angel made a pronouncement over the birth of the Messiah, Isaiah wrote about true hope, Christmas hope, the hope of Jesus. It is not a hope that something could happen or even might happen where we are anxiously worrying about whether it will come to pass. True Christmas hope is a hope in things that will happen and gives us a sense of waiting expectantly. This is a joyful expectation and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that the promise which has been made will be fulfilled.
When I think of joyful expectation, I think of a newborn and that long period of nine months as you see that child grow in it’s mother’s womb. You spend so much time talking about what it will be like, preparing for his/her arrival with the purchase of furniture, painting and decorating his/her room and going to classes to make his/her arrival as smooth as can be. And then the day finally arrives and it’s the fulfillment of complete and utter joy. Contrast that with the many broken promises we’ve experienced. The problem is that people don’t always follow through on the promises they make and they let us down. How many of you have had someone break a promises and defeat your hope, your hope for the future, your hope in people?
We serve a God who never since the beginning of time has broken a promise. Joshua 23:14 says, “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.” This is why we have hope because He is a God who always fulfills his promises. It’s more than an anxious wishing but rather a confident knowing and expectation that a God who promised a child some 800 years before His birth still saw fit to fulfill His promises. And in so doing, we who were a people walking in the darkness of our own making through our sinfulness and selfish decisions now experience a God who caught us before we fell too fall from Him through the gift of a child born in a manger.