Celebrating the Gift of Hope at HTC
By Andy Haith
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We’ve been busy here at HTC hanging baubles, trimming trees, lighting candles, and all manner of festive preparations. And of course, along with the decorations, the cheer of the season has begun to sneak into our every day interactions, along with the echoes of familiar Christmas melodies that follow us everywhere we go (for better or for worse). Best of all, though, it’s again that time of the year when we begin to consider what gifts to give our friends and family, and, better yet, what gifts they might be getting us!
It’s true that the Christmas season isn’t just about gifts, but it’s also true that the Lord loves to give good gifts to his children. That’s why, in the midst of the Christmas shopping frenzy, it’s good to be reminded to be expectant to receive what He has for us. This year, our focus as a family and as a church is on receiving His gift of hope.
Hope isn’t just a nice feeling or positive mindset to live by. The final words of 1 Corinthians 13 in verse 13 tell us that hope is one of the lasting principles that will ripple out from our lives and last into eternity. Up there with love and faith, hope will ‘remain’. We all know there are things – which we might be tempted to see as important – that in time ‘will cease’, ‘be stilled’ or ‘will pass away’. But we’re promised that hope isn’t one of these temporary things. It should be highly valued, as it will remain even in heaven where we will see the Lord more clearly and eventually, ‘know fully even as we are fully known’. The Advent season gives us the opportunity to reflect on what is truly important in our lives and remember that God has given us the greatest gift of eternal hope to help us through any temporary anxieties, stresses and fears.
One way to define hope is “a feeling of trust.” Our relationship with God is the most trustworthy relationship we will ever experience in our lives. We trust that God will always guide us through obstacles we may face and lead us toward a life filled with faith and love. And ultimately, we trust that he will give us eternal life.
As we grow in faith, we can have an ever-increasing sense of hope for our future, and for the future of our friends and family. Christmas is a time to take hold of that hope as we revisit the story of the birth of Jesus, the incarnation, which becomes the story of ‘God in man, poured out in love for us’.
My heart is that HTC would be a place where people discover hope, and grow in their understanding of how to live hopeful lives. “The Gift of Hope” services at HTC will be a time dedicated for all of us to come together as a church family and celebrate the true source of hope in the Christmas message. We will be gathering on Sunday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Dec. 24 at 5 PM for a very special service as we worship, celebrate the birth of Jesus and thank God for the amazing gift of hope that inspires us throughout this season and beyond.