Saturday, December 1, 2007

Advent – Week 1: Hope

[On Saturdays for the next few weeks, I hope you will enjoy these thoughts in preparation for the Advent season (traditionally we light one candle of the Advent Wreath each Sunday leading up to Christmas, and the center candle on Christmas Eve).]

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2, ESV)

The wise men, we call them Magi, were experts in hope. They followed a star from the East. The star appeared in their night sky signaling a new king. They knew nothing about this new king except that he would be great. After all he was heralded by the appearance of a brand new star – one that had never been seen before.

In hope of a new and special day, they came to Jerusalem from a country far away. Some experts estimate that the trip might have taken up to three years. When the star appeared announcing Jesus’ birth, they began to excitedly make preparations. They gathered together a caravan that would be a worthy envoy to the new royal whose star it was. They then searched far and wide for presents fit for a king. Recorded for us are gold, frankincense and myrrh. Who knows what other rich gifts were brought in anticipation of this new king. Then they traveled no one knows how many miles to greet this new king.

Hope springs eternal when we see these wise men. They held hope for something grand to happen in their time, so they watched the sky. They saw hope represented in a star that appeared in the nighttime sky. They rushed toward hope by making the arduous journey to a foreign land to greet and bring appropriate gifts to the king. They lived on in hope by obeying the warning dream that instructed them to avoid Herod in their journey home.

We might take a lesson from these men who found hope to be so strong in their lives, especially during this season of hope.

Father, renew in us the spirit of hope that was brought to wise men in the form of a star. Amen.

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