First week of Advent: Hope
This coming Sunday, November 28, is the first Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means “arrival.” During the Advent season (the fours Sundays leading up to Christmas day), we celebrate the arrival of Jesus on earth. We celebrate God leaving his glorious throne and exchanging it for life as a man among us. These four weeks give us the opportunity to prepare our hearts and focus on the gift of God which came into the world. The first Sunday of Advent celebrates Hope. Hope reminds us that we have a God who loves us so much that he gave his Son so that we could be reunited with our Heavenly Father.
As I reflect on the ministry at White Oak, I think about what I hope for. I think about how to prepare for the things that are coming for our church in the months to come.
I hope that we learn more to trust God’s all-powerful Word as the guiding truth for us.
I hope that each of us owns the assignment from God to disciple one other person to know and walk more closely with God’s Word and Jesus.
I hope that we learn from our Heavenly Father how we can use the properties and facilities God has entrusted to WOCC to serve our community seven days a week.
I hope we will step into deeper generosity where we joyfully give up something we love for something we love more in order to fuel more of God’s impact through WOCC.
I hope that that people of White Oak can grow to care most about the men, women, children, and teens who will discover their identity in Jesus. And, that we’ll each do something about it!
I also hope for my kids to be healthy and grow in their confidence in who God says they are. I hope for lots of snow this winter! I also hope that our minivan lasts one more year. The thing about God’s hope is that he gives it as a free gift to us, but he doesn’t leave it there. We don’t just hope things happen defining hope as simply wishful thinking that something will turn out the way we want. Christian hope is different. Our hope rests in Jesus. He is the champion of our faith. He rescues and gives mercy where we don’t deserve it. Our hope rests in that we have a God who loves us regardless of anything. We have a God who is working for our good in all things. We also have a God who invites us to actively participate in that hope…
Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near. -Matthew 3:2
It’s strange to consider that hope begins with repentance. John the Baptist prepared the people of Israel for the hope of Jesus coming into the world and it began with repentance. Hope starts with your and my ownership of our sin. Hope begins with our admission that we fall short. Often. Hope is realized at the same time we acknowledge we have left the things God has assigned for us to accomplish unfinished or we’ve turned them over for someone else to do, instead.
I encourage you to set aside four candles for Advent this season --- lighting one for each Sunday of Advent reflecting and preparing for what Jesus’s coming means for you. I encourage you to consider what you HOPE for in the coming months. What are the things that are most important to God which he has invited you to step into? Repent of having fallen short of obedience and submission. Trust and know that God’s grace is enough apart from your failures or successes. Then, take a step to partner with God in what he wants to do in your life and because of your life. This season, activate hope.
Join us at White Oak as we press into the things God has assigned to us. I invite you to actively serve in ministry and to invest in the things that matter most to God. Click HERE to learn more about serving and giving at White Oak!
Lead Pastor, White Oak Christian Church