Read: Luke 21:25-36
Meditation: “Hoping Between Two Hopes”
Our annual observance of Advent is a “present hope” that’s always couched between two hopes. The first hope came with the birth of Jesus Christ, and was expressed by the grieving travelers on the road to Emmaus, “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). And when the resurrection lifted the veil of sadness, Jesus was shown to be that very hope—what the liturgy calls, “the ground of our hope and the promise of our deliverance from sin and death.”
The second hope comes with the return of Christ. Every year we begin Advent by looking forward to that time when Jesus will come back to earth,and we will proclaim with the hosts of heaven, “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15 ).
So our annual Advent is always between the other two advents. Our hope is always bracketed by the two hopes.
But lest our first steps into Advent be either too far in the past or too far into the future, today’s lesson reminds us that hope is never a stand-alone experience. It never comes in a pure form. Hope always exists in the midst of “distress among the nations” (v. 25).
This does two things for us. First, it takes away all La-La Land notions of what real hope is. We live squarely and faithfully in the reality of life as we are experiencing it. And second, today’s lesson teaches us that hope is not extinguished by the circumstances which surround it.
Jesus says that our hope is, in effect, kept alive by our observance of the fig tree. Hope is kept alive as we pay attention to what’s going on and see it as a “sign” of God’s presence and activity among us. So, Jesus brings his warning to an end by saying, “Be on guard that your hearts are not weighed down….” (v. 34)
This may be the message we need to hear most this (and every Advent)—don’t let the condition of the world, the circumstances of your life, or the stress of the season weigh you down. Hope in Jesus! Hope between the two hopes.