Hope Realized — St. Peter's Fireside Church Vancouver

by Julia Sterne
December 25, 2018
5 min read

“Is it Christmas now?”

Our three year old has asked me this at least twice daily since the initiation of advent. She knows it is coming but her little mind cannot seem to grasp what our countdown calendar tangibly expresses.

“No, baby, there are still five more days. See the five bags hanging on the wall?”

“Awwww, maaaaaann!”

Yes, she actually says ‘aw, man.’ It is freaking adorable.

The questions seem childish: are we there yet? Can we go now? Is it time to open the presents? But the questions I often ask internally echoing these sentiments: Can I stop working now? Can I rest yet? When will there be the warm embraces? The feasting? The sleeping in?

It feels awfully similar to that last month of pregnancy. Tired of waiting, eager to meet the small creature I know so well already, but want to see with my very own eyes. A heaviness, both physically and emotionally; a weight of anticipation that wears you down; counting down to a due date (praying that the baby is also on board for the expected time of arrival).

In Advent, we meet Mary here. She is 40 weeks pregnant, bursting at the seems in some ways. A miracle pregnancy and hidden, treasured in her heart are the promises God spoke to her through an angel. The childish questions stir- is it time yet? The waiting must have been as challenging as carrying the now substantial mass in her midsection.

“Is it Christmas now?”

And then, a noticeable intense pain and contraction. It is happening.

The girls awake, with the slightest glimmer of light whispering to them that dawn has come. The rush of joy and breaking out of song from little mouths. Although half awake, there is a warmth and energy stirring my heart. It’s Christmas time.

The moment we have all been waiting for. For our children, it is ripping the wrapping paper off the once hidden treasure. For some of us it feasting our eyes on the blessings and goodness and richness of a holy day, cuddled on the couch with a hot cup of cocoa, soaking it all in.

For Mary, it was the birth. She waited, looking forward to the goodness God had promised. This is hope. Waiting for the good stuff. And Christmas morning, the birth, is the realization of hope. We move from anticipation to a palpable experience of the good we have been looking forward to.

We shift. There is an actualization. A receiving. God’s rescue mission is a “GO”. The Messiah arrives.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us, a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah prophecies pronounce the coming Messiah, Saviour, King, a presence of the living God here on earth.

And the hope, the good that was promised? Mary holds him. She holds a little warm bundle, fragile and yet strong, resting her nose on his soft and sweet smelling head. She kisses the very face of God.

“Is it Christmas now?”

And Christmas morning, the birth, is the realization of hope. We move from anticipation to a palpable experience of the good we have been looking forward to.

Advent ends, the last calendar door is opened, and we find Jesus. We symbolically place him in our nativity scenes, our smallest gesture of remembering the moment that changes the world forever. We open gifts that have been calling to us from under the tree, we uncover and expose the good things waiting for us. And we celebrate, whether in calm moments of reflection or in the raucous singing and feasting of a large gathering.

Our hope is realized. The gift has arrived. Our God is here. Emmanuel has come.

In our series on Ruth (give it a listen!), her hope is realized. She has hoped in good yet to come, despite death, loss, famine, and poverty. She chooses a bold risky hope, rooted in faith that God will redeem her and Naomi, despite all odds. She trusts in some idea of God’s goodness and looks for it. She waits and obeys and asks for her redemption. In Chapter 4, Boaz hears her and responds with great compassion and love. Hesed. He redeems her. God redeems Ruth. He turns her waiting into receiving his blessing and fullness and provision and care. It is very close to Christmas.

Naomi lost hope. She was beaten down and turned to pessimism and bitterness. The loss and grief were thick. But God still had good for her yet. She had lost hope, but God (and Ruth) had not.

“Unto us a child is born.” Ruth has a baby, a son. Instead of treasuring him for herself she hands her beloved child to Naomi.

“He is yours”.

I can only imagine the joyful weeping as Naomi’s heart sees finally God’s redemption in a palpable way. She holds a little warm bundle, fragile and yet strong, resting her nose on his soft and sweet smelling head. In years of pain, she could not have known the grace and goodness yet to come. And here he is.

God sent her a son. God sent us a son. Mission redemption is Go for Launch.

It is Christmas now.

For Advent, St. Peter’s Fireside has traced the theme of Hope throughout the Book of Ruth through our sermons, poetic reflections and these blog posts. You can listen to the fourth sermon, Hope Realized, here and read the fourth poetic reflection, Joy has Comehere

about the author
Julia is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at New Story Counselling, and is a member of St. Peter's Fireside. She is the wife of Alastair, the mother of Ansley and Maggie, and one of the kindest people you'll ever meet. If you're feeling up for it, you can follow her on Facebook or Pinterest.

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