“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel” Isa. 7: 14.
Worshipping God with the Methodist community of Grove Methodist Church on December 8, 2019, was an inspiring and fulfilling experience, and left me feeling excited and very hopeful. Guess you are wondering, “Why?” Well, I saw a glimpse of a church family. Besides adults and young adults, there were youth, children, babies and pregnant mothers. I was thrilled to see the babies and pregnant women, because babies and pregnancies are signs of hope. They speak to the miracle of conception and hope for the continuation of humanity. They are signs of God’s love and amazing grace, and awesome power to do, “exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine”.
Through Isaiah, God spoke to the unbelieving and reluctant King Ahaz, and impressed upon him the need to remember God’s covenant with Judah, and to have hope in the face of his worst fears. What was happening?
King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel, as confederates, advanced on King Ahaz’s Jerusalem. Owing to the military alliance, “the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” v.2. To provide hope, Ahaz sought an alliance with Assyria. Ahaz was warned against the need for such a confederacy, seeing that the coalition of Aram and Ephraim was like “two smoldering stumps of firebrands” v.4; they were not blazing and were about to go out.
Ahaz was unconvinced, and even rejected the suggestion that he
ask God for a sign to persuade him that God would save Jerusalem without a military alliance with Assyria. God promised a sign. What’s the sign? The birth of a baby. Yes! A baby as a sign of hope.
The problems of our age are varied, potentially causing a sense of apprehension and trepidation. We will be tempted to lose heart and seek solutions that are not divinely inspired or God-affirming. The people of God must never lose hope in the power of God to transform lives and situations. Yes! Humans have answers, but God has THE answer.
The Incarnation of Jesus is God’s resounding “yes” to earthly life and human flourishing. Christmas is the annual reminder that we need not allow situations of fear and hopelessness to tone down our aspirations or make us lose hope for a better future. The people of God should maintain an indomitable spirit of hope in God’s promise of everlasting love and a new earth. Pregnancy and birth are two of the miraculous tokens sent to remind us of God’s power to deliver.
Babies and children, by their very nature, are signs of hope. Let us hope in the faithfulness and power of God to deliver.
Thought: There are signs of hope all around. Am I hopeful?
Prayer: Lord, you have spoken to me. Help me to see your signs of hope, and trust you.
Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith J.P.