Hope helps!
By Ron Otto, preaching minister
Lincoln Christian Church

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Stress and frustration will always be identified with 2020. They also marked a time 2,000 years ago during the days of Jesus’ birth. Not much today beats the stress and frustration levels of that story.

Imagine: Does the idea of a pregnant peasant teenage girl stress you? We have one. Do the broken dreams of a young engaged groom with a fiancé who is pregnant (not his child) frustrate you? We got one of those too. Does an unexpected long trip riding on a donkey for no other reason than a senseless political counting of the people push your buttons? It’s here. Does an inn keeper who points an expecting mother to a barn out back feel insensitive? Shame on him! Does watching someone being treated poorly, rejected, and outcast like the shepherds, bother you? We have those. Will a powerful, corrupt evil King like Herod, who has the murder of children on his “to do” list make you clinch your teeth? We also have one of those. Can’t you feel it? The stress and frustration of this story is off the charts. And yet…

There beneath a shining star a baby will enter our world, the angels will sing, the wise men will kneel and HOPE will be born. We’re told we can’t live without HOPE.

It would seem, as pointed out by my wife, that I have too many clothes. Too many shirts. Too many jeans. Too many old clothes that don’t fit anymore still hanging in our closet. When asked why I keep clothing that doesn’t fit, I told her I still had HOPE of wearing them again…someday. She chuckled. She doesn’t share my optimism. With a soft smile and a playful pat on my hiney, she says, “Okay honey!” Shame on her!

We need HOPE like we need air. A world without HOPE is too much to face. 2020 almost broke us. It was on the very edge of “Lord, you asked too much of us.” We’re all so hungry for something good and HOPEFUL to come next year that maybe we should have a eulogy for 2020. Let’s have a public funeral. A community wake. Let’s bury this year and move on to the next.

Before we do, consider: we celebrate the birth of Jesus during the darkest days of our year. When days are the shortest, when sunshine is the most limited, we look to the birth of Jesus. Why? Because it was in the darkness we needed a great light. It was when the world was as divided, as cruel, and as broken as our world is still today that we needed the HOPE Jesus brings.

In the middle of one of the most stressful and frustrated stories one can imagine, a baby was born. He would change the world. He would become a household name. He would bring HOPE to us once again. The name of Jesus has been a light to a dark world for 2,000 years and he is the key to our HOPE in 2021.

Stop. Do it now. Ask Jesus to be born anew in our hearts and in our days to come. If you have Jesus, you have the HOPE you need to break out of this darkness!


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