The greatest thing the Christian Faith gives is hope. Hope for the future here in this world; and in the world to come. We live in the sureness of that hope when we practice our faith; when we do those things we are given to do, and when we do not do those things we are admonished not to do. The equation is a simple one.
But there is something in that simplicity that escapes many of us, and we complicate or lives by doing just the opposite of what we know is good and correct. We humans, loved by our creator, were given that free choice: We can love God, and what God asks of us; or, love ourselves and suffer the consequences. When we make the right choices we have hope. When we choose to follow our own desires we forfeit, and have little hope.
God is fully aware of the way we are. He knows of our propensities; what our choices are going to be. But, loving us fully and strongly, he allows for our willingness and ability to change when we see the error of our ways. We are given a sense of the need to change in the gospel of Matthew, where John the Baptist, knowing that God is preparing something wonderful shouts “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” over and over again and draws to him a crowd, who are washed and baptized in the Jordan River. They are told to change, and follow the God who loves them, and to keep his ways. They are given hope.
Paul, when teaching the Christians in Rome speaks to them plainly and says, “For whatever was written in former day was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” And hope is what they desired. It is what we all desire.
The scriptures Paul speaks of are found in Isaiah; where in beautiful metaphor the coming of the Messiah, the coming of Jesus, is predicted in these writings: “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”
“Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.” Is Isaiah’s description of the Messiah, and then a picture of hope is offered as the prophet writes, “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” This is what we prepare for as we wait for the birth of Jesus, in the low estate, a manger in Bethlehem. Now, in your heart, prepare ye the way. Amen.
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.