An ex-pastors thought on advent part 2: hope

hopeOne time I was a pastor, but now I’m a rebel; a rebel a part of a great rebellion.  “Rebellions are built on hope.” – Star Wars Rogue One.

When Jesus was born, a revolution started.  An uprising that looked much different than the people were expecting.  It was a dark day where Rome ruled a captive people desiring freedom.  They were expecting a hero from God to come save them from the clutches of the Roman’s rule.  One starry night, their Victor was born not in grandeur, but in secret, in the quiet.  Their king arrived not in a palace, but a barn, and no one knew except some shepherds who were awake.  Hope always arrives to the awake first, and reveals to those who lay down their own agenda of expectation.  The nation had an agenda – to see God show his power like he did when they were captive in Egypt, but this time God had a different plan.  Only those awake would see it.

Today, the rebellion continues, but not in the way we expect it as well.  We too, have an agenda of how we expect God to work in our world, yet we don’t see it manifest.  Where is hope?  Where is the rescue from pain and suffering?

Those “awake” today know that the Jesus of hope is not interested in merely being invited into our lives – He is inviting us into His; into his mystery, into the true rebellion.  He wants to show us what God’s underground rescue truly looks like.

For many, hope looks like the rescue of individuals rather than a master plan where a deeper story unveils.   We have heard that Jesus came for us to have a relationship with him.  This is true, but this puts us as the main character of hope’s story when it was never meant to be you and I.  What does God’s plan of hope look like when Jesus is the main character?  The true victor?

When he is placed at the centre of the story it is like a prisoner being pardoned, brokenness healed, an enemy being embraced.  “We have reduced his message to, ‘If you died tonight do you know where you would spend eternity?’ Instead of ‘If you LIVE tonight, how will you enter the kingdom of God?’  Jesus’ message has been reduced more to dying than living”. (Revangelism)  Turns out hope is a kingdom invasion, not just a rescue.

God had something much bigger in mind on the first Christmas.  A story that had been slowly unveiling over the cosmos of timeless time.  His plan’s focus was not to make people pray a special prayer to guarantee a ticket to heaven, but in actuality, bring heaven to earth.  Those awake can partake in it with no strings attached, no hoops to jump through – only see this Jesus as the King he is with a kingdom that invades earth with his glory.   Hope looks like the King coming to where we are, not us striving to reach for him.  Yes he has come, to bring hope that even though there is death, there is resurrection after.   Because he put death in it’s place and brought hope for new creation, there is now hope for the poor, the sick, the lonely, the depressed.  He binds up the brokenhearted, he sets those who have been tormented as captives free.  He releases prisoners.  He restores what has been lost and stolen and rebuilds. He gives us a new name: beloved, a new creation.  The old has gone, the new has come. Immanuel, God has arrived to be with us.  We didn’t reach him, he came to us and found us in our corner.  He doesn’t just reach out his hand to heal us, he extends to us an invitation to become a part of the rebellion of hope – to bring heaven to earth.  Those awake will hear, those awake will see, those brave will respond.

So, beloved, are you awake?

 

 

 

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