This is Pastor Tim’s article featured in The Evening Leader on Monday, Dec 9, 2019
For week 2 of our four weeks of Advent, we are looking at one of the most important parts of life – hope. We light the second candle in the Advent wreath in remembrance of hope. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but I hope that all of you who witness a candle of hope being lit this weekend will take that second candle to heart. Hope seems to be in short supply today.
We live in the most prosperous culture that this planet has ever known. We have medical advancements as well as literally thousands of luxury items available at our fingertips. I can read about some obscure tree in South America, send text messages to people all over the world and play a game, all while sitting in a comfortable chair in a climate-controlled room, eating a bowl of delicious cereal.
All of this is available to me, yet I read a report earlier this week that the life expectancy actually dropped last year. The epidemic of suicide and drug abuse is to blame. How could this be? The simple answer is we are losing hope. We no longer believe that tomorrow is going to be better than today. We have loud voices out there telling us that the world is going to end in 12 years and the only way we can save the world is to sacrifice our rights and freedoms and just let the powerful among us make all the choices about how we live, where we live, how we raise our kids and how we spend our money. This strategy has a consistent track record. It has failed every single time it has been attempted.
Outrage mobs, cancel culture, the easily offended and enough hashtags to sink a ship for every perceived injustice, slight, or disrespect. Everybody has a chip on their shoulder looking for an outlet. There is so much venom and poison in our world today that it just seems overwhelming. No one respects anyone and no one is willing to listen to anything they don’t want to hear. Drug abuse soars, families are breaking up. I read a statement from a data security website that in the United States, $3000 is spent on pornography every second. That is almost $100 billion a year.
I think we can classify this as a mess. So we have to ask ourselves, what is God’s response to all of this? The answer is a single candle. Well, that was a bit anticlimactic, wasn’t it? Seems like even I could have come up with something better than that. But that is what we have, the second Advent candle – the candle that has no meaning until we put that candle in context.
The second Advent candle is lit in honor of hope. We light it during the season of preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Messiah. We are commemorating God sending His Son into this mess I just described. He came in order to give us a chance to light a single candle in the darkness of this world, a light that says the darkness and confusion of this world will not engulf us. It is a statement that we know for a fact that whether or not the world ends is not up to us to decide. Do we have an obligation to be responsible? Of course we do. But we are not the ones who gave life to this planet. We didn’t set the earth on its axis and we have no control over when the sun rises and sets.
What can we control? We can control the flame of one candle, the candle of hope. Because of the hope that we celebrate this season, we can know that even if the world does end, we will experience abundant life. And that life is not given to us because we gave up control of our lives to a worldly leader. That life is offered to us by a benevolent and loving God who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” as John 3:16 teaches us.
If hope seems far away today, attend church this Sunday, where we will light a very particular candle in the darkness of this world.