Christmas Day winds to a close now. The much anticipated festivities are past and and the presents have been opened. What is there to anticipate in the days to come? What motivates us as we turn to tomorrow?
I’m reminded of the time I toured a shelter for homeless teens many years ago. Somewhere in the middle of the tour a man joined us who had worked at the shelter for many years. He wasn’t the director, but he was clearly the heart and soul of the ministry.
After hearing him breathe the vision of the ministry at every turn, I complimented him on his hopefulness. He furrowed his brow questioningly, lowered his voice, and said:
Listen, we ain’t got hope? We ain’t got NOTHIN’ to work with.
Then, he smiled and his eyes twinkled as his face unwrinkled and he continued with great flourish:
But...as long as we got HOPE, we got somethin’ to work with!
Indeed, remembering the incarnation of our Lord ought to give us great hope and reason to press ahead. The coming of our Lord in the flesh gave Mary hope. She said: “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever” (Luke 1:54-55). We could go on to recount the hopeful words of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph, the angels, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna. Their hope led to action in each case according to the person’s calling.
They expressed hope even though they knew they had not experienced the total fulfillment of God’s promises. They simply knew the birth of Christ was yet one more stage in the fulfillment of God’s plan. Today, Jesus has completed his earthly work in his humiliating state here on earth. He has completed his cross-work to bear our sin and shame, and he is seated at the Father’s right hand. God has promised help to Abraham and his offspring forever, as Mary recalled. All of us in Christ are recipients of that promise. All God has promised will come to pass, and that is our hope.
Sure, the hum of the holiday season will soon fade away. Regardless of your circumstances and mine, we’ve got “somethin’ to work with" tomorrow because Jesus Christ has given us hope and help. Better things are yet to come. We are not yet where we are going, but we will most certainly get there. Since tomorrow is the next installment of the fulfillment of his promise, we can throw ourselves with great flourish into the work of faith and labor of love he has given each of us. So let’s turn the calendar page with great hope together!