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Three purple one pink candle represent the four Sundays in the Advent season in Catholic and Protestant churches. The Christ candle, not pictured here, is white, and is often lighted during Christmas Eve worship.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

— Romans 15:13

This past Sunday was the first week of Advent, which begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas.

The English word for “Advent” is from the Latin word “adventus” and means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent is a means of preparing our hearts to celebrate the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world. Jesus’ birth into the world is called the incarnation. The incarnation of Jesus means that Jesus became human. He left the glories of heaven and was born into this world as a fully human child. At the incarnation, Jesus became both fully human and fully God at the same time.

Christmas is a celebration of eternal God becoming finite man. Through a miraculous conception in the womb of a young virgin named Mary, God orchestrated a combination of full humanity and full divinity uniting in one person. Christmas is truly a celebration of the miraculous.

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The Rev. Brad Cockrell

At its core, Christmas is a celebration. It is the largest celebration in the world. The holiday is on Dec. 25, but truth be told, it is celebrated the entire month of December. Other holidays are given a single day, but Christmas is given an entire month. It is a birthday celebration like no other.

One of the many reasons Christ’s birth is such a big celebration is because of the hope that his birth brings. Christ’s birth is a celebration of the hope of salvation. The hope of salvation is different from the way we normally think about hope.

Normally, we think of hope in the sense of preferring something to happen without having any certainty or guarantee that it will happen. For example, if I say “I don’t know if he is going to be here, but I hope that he will make it,” I am using the word hope to express a desire that I want to happen in the future but have no certainty that it will happen.

However, that is not the way the Bible speaks toward the hope that we have in Christ. When the Bible speaks about this hope, it is a confident expectation of what will one day take place. The distinctive element of salvation hope is certainty. It is confidence. The hope of salvation in Christ is being confidently certain of what is going to happen because God promised and said that it will happen.

The reason that Christmas fills the hearts of Christians with hope is because our eternal hope is dependent upon the Christmas story. The reality of the biblical Christmas story is essential to our hope in all of God’s promises concerning salvation.

If the biblical Christmas story is not true, then we have no hope. If the Christmas story, as told in the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, are only make believe and belong in the same category as Santa Claus, Rudolph and Frosty, then the hope we have of eternal salvation in Christ is lost.

Christmas is a season of hope because as the angel declared in Luke 2:10-11: “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

The hope of salvation for every single person is the birth of Christ. The birth of Christ led to the life of Christ, which led to the death of Christ, which led to the resurrection of Christ. Everything Christ accomplished with His life, death and resurrection is what gives us hope that we will not come under judgment for our sin.

Through Christ, forgiveness has been offered so that there is no condemnation. Romans 8:32 says: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” “All things” includes forgiveness and no condemnation and righteousness and an abundant, glorious, eternal life in God’s all satisfying presence.

This is possible because Christ was born. All of the hope filled future promises of God find their “yes in Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

May your heart be filled with the hope of Christ this Christmas season!

THE REV. BRAD COCKRELL is the senior pastor of Southmont Baptist Church in Denton.

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