The Hope of Advent  

As a teenager working in the mall during Christmas, I was the guy who ran products from the warehouse to the store clerks. This cavernous stockroom was 6,000 square feet and filled wall-to-wall with boxes.

On one occasion, I found myself at the rear side of the windowless warehouse opposite the door when someone turned off the lights. There I was, alone in the dark with 15,000 boxes between the light switch and me. I couldn’t see an inch before my face. I know what you’re thinking: just find an aisle and walk toward the door! Yeah, if only there was such a path. Boxes were haphazardly piled everywhere.

I remember what I felt during those thirty minutes of meandering around the room: isolation, fear, and dread. It was the kind of defining moment that is all too common in the human experience.

After the twenty-ninth minute, I crawled around a pile of boxes, and there, in the distance, I saw a dim sign labeled, “Exit.” I knew that below the sign was a door, and beside the door was a light switch. At once, a new sensation emerged: hope.

What does this little story have to do with Advent? Everything. Jesus entered history and said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Apart from Jesus Christ, we face a future that is ultimately dark and hopeless. But there is good news. The crucified Lord entered the shadows of our suffering, plumbing the depths of human pain and loss. On the Cross, he died as our substitute, paying the penalty for sin. But he didn’t remain dead. On the third day, God raised Jesus from the grave by the power of the Spirit. And now this living Christ is in heaven with outstretched arms, offering to exchange our darkness for the light of his presence.

This, my friends, is the living hope of Advent.

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