During this time of the year, a key word I think about often is “hope.” I can see it in my little boy’s eyes as he talks about what he wants for Christmas. I see it as he looks at Santa. I was taught that the definition of hope is, “confident expectation in the future,” and I can see it in both the secular and sacred aspects of my family’s Christmas celebration.

The Christmas story is about hope. Christianity should be about hope. Not just hope for an eternal future with God in heaven, but hope for this life that is often miserable. We should be about bringing hope to those around us. Jesus brought hope with Him to a world in darkness. Much like today’s world, it was a world wrecked with war, oppression, and injustice.

Christianity should fill the world with hope. We should be the bearers of hope to a world that is, often times, hopeless. I’m thinking about what it looks like for the church to give people hope. I want to be a part of something that is hope-giving to those around me. Not in a “trust Jesus and everything will be swell” kind of way. I’ve come to realize that it’s not always like that. There’s a lot of junk in the world. I believe that people are looking for hope in the middle of all that.

What are our expectations for the church? What do we hope for from those who call themselves the church? I would expect people to offer a confident expectation in the future. I would expect that the church offer hope to the hopeless in a tangible way. I believe that is what Jesus did while He walked the earth. He was the epitome of hope for many who otherwise were living in dire circumstances. When Jesus showed up, hope arrived. I want to offer hope in the same way Jesus did.

Merry Christmas.

What can we do to offer hope in 2008?