Summary: As we ready our hearts and homes for this Christmas Season let us give Hope to ALL those around us as they see our courage in the light of the worlds fear. Let it be our faith that shines in the dark days to come so that it like this Advent candle flames
We can learn HOPE from a Child
Hope for the Nations
Matthew 12:21 NIV
21 In his name the nations will put their hope.
Romans 12:12 NIV
12Be joyful in hope patient in affliction faithful in prayer.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.
Watch with Hope
Today we celebrate lighting the first candle in this season of Advent.
Advent History from Wikipedia
The earliest Advent wreaths were made in the Middle Ages; however, the first modern Advent wreath was made by Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881).
Wichern was a German theologian and educator who founded a home for poor children in the city of Hamburg. During the Advent season, the children would ask daily if Christmas had arrived. In 1839 he built a wooden ring (made out of an old cartwheel) with 198 small red and 56 big white candles. A small candle was lit successively every day of Advent.
On Sundays and Saturdays a large white candle was lit. This eventually led to the modern Advent wreath with its four candles.
It has now spread to other countries. Eventually, the Advent wreath made its way into various Protestant churches and later into Roman Catholic churches in the United States. In Orthodox Christian countries, Advent wreaths with 6 candles are sometimes used due to the longer Advent season.
November 30th is also the Feast of St. Andrew
Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland Russia Romania Greece and Luqa in Malta. He was also the patron saint of Prussia.
Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction faithful in prayer.
Our Advent reading comes from the Gospel of Mark believed to be written around 65-70AD. Emperor Nero was 26 years old in 64 AD when he ordered Rome to be burned and blamed it on the Christians since they taught that the world would one day be consumed by fire because of the wrath of God.
At this time in history both St. Peter and St. Paul had become prisoners of Rome and would be martyred for their faith.
St. Mark one of the younger Apostles was a companion of both Peter and Paul. It is believed that St. Marks gospel was requested to be recorded by the church at Rome as a testimony to what they were taught about Jesus.
This persecution by Emperor Nero would be the first of ten great persecutions that the church would suffer. The words of todays text are written to encourage the church that a time is coming when Jesus will return in power and glory to:
26At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
Christmas is a time for us to watch and to be gathered with our families and friends as we remember the great and precious gift given to human kind by our Father in Heaven. Jesus the Prince of Peace would come humbly as a little child and would know the full measure of human existence from infant to manhood.
Hebrews 2:5-18 NIV
Jesus Made Like His Brothers
5It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6But there is a place where someone has testified:
"What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
7You made him a little[a] lower than the angels
you crowned him with glory and honor
8 and put everything under his feet. [b]
In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12He says,
I will declare your name to my brothers
in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.[c] 13And again,
I will put my trust in him.[d] And again he says,
Here am I, and the children God has given me.[e]
14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death that is, the devil 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abrahams descendants. 17For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for[f]the sins of the people. 18Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.