Hope: God is faithful

Published 1:30 pm Monday, December 11, 2023

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Where do you find ‘hope’ for your living? What kinds of things tend to give you hope? Advent began this week. The theme for this week is hope. Each of the lectionary scriptures for this past Sunday, no matter which I had chosen, points back toward an expectant people. 

They were awaiting good news from God in the form of a Messiah. Jesus Christ, we Christians would say of course. This is always an amazing, fast-moving time as we cascade promptly from the satisfaction and gratitude of Thanksgiving right into the waiting and expectation of Advent. 

I talked to one person last week who said that he had four Thanksgiving dinners recently. Four. When he recounted the various settings, groups and family gatherings, it all made sense. 

There were years, especially in Greensboro, where I could have the traditional Thanksgiving meal with Turkey, dressing and all the trimmings as many as five or six times before the big day actually arrived. Every time I turned around, a group I worked with was celebrating.

We would tell our family members who visited us on that holiday to not pass up that traditional meal anywhere else. Because at our house on Thanksgiving, they were probably getting Lasagna or something completely different. 

Do you ever just get over holiday meals a little bit? Maybe that third or fourth run-through of the leftovers. It was all good, no question. No one would lack the gratitude to say anything different. 

We’ve just come from the Thanksgiving table, for all practical purposes. Not long ago, we were reminded of God’s faithfulness. Hopefully, we gave thanks for God being with us, around us and within us.

Many of us, if we were fortunate, did not rush through the Thanksgiving meal. We savored the time with family or friends, surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of that table. But those leftovers hit differently. We just warm them up and slam them down normally.

Now Advent is here. This is such a beautiful feast for our senses. Every scripture, every song, every prayer and word spoken on the Sundays of Advent will lead us through these meaningful days. Nothing will happen by accident, although I pray that much will happen by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

For that reason, and in the same way as Thanksgiving day, I would urge you not to rush through this season. Sit in the moments. Savor the sights, smells and sounds of this time. Take in all that is provided at church for your spiritual nourishment. 

Paul is writing to the saints of Corinth in our scripture found in 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9. The ones who were waiting. Waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, in their case. By extension, he was writing to us too.

Wherever you find yourself this Advent, don’t rush. Breathe and remember that God is faithful. 

You should also probably remember that Corinth was a mess. Paul probably spent about eighteen months in Corinth. He had found healing there from a rigorous experience with the Athenian philosophers. 

Paul was on mission when he was among them. Sharing the Gospel with every synagogue and temple. Jews, Greeks, Gentiles– every child of God was eligible now. 

The church at Corinth was small and growing. Then Paul left for Ephesus and things began to unravel. This letter was trying to get things back on track. The church was divided, and they were trying to fix it themselves. 

Paul reminds the Corinthians and us to wait and remember that God is faithful. We need to sit with this for a moment. When have you tried to fix your life by yourself? When have you been bullied by those who thought themselves superior? When have you forgotten to breathe? When have you forgotten that God is faithful?

In the days ahead, you may be tempted to do too much by yourself. Your anxiety may be ramped up and you will probably find yourself wishing and hoping for the season to hurry through. “I can’t wait til Christmas is over!” someone may say.

My Advent prayer is that you and I will place our hope in God’s good care. I’ll also pray that we have the discipline to place ourselves in the fellowship of other believers this season, at our churches. Maybe most of all, like a perfect parent God will once again visit humanity with what we need most. I have hope because God is faithful.

Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.