purple ornaments and starOh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

~ Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about the end of the world. It has had a similar feel to it as Y2K, only with much more ancient roots. Instead of fearing our computers failing us, it has been a calendar created by the Mayans “prophesying” our demise, that has had people on edge. According to the movie 2012, the Mayan calendar says that the “END” is only nine days away. And though many of us have shrugged or laughed it off–and we have been told the end of the Mayan calendar actually marks the end of an Era not the World–others have become “Doomsday Preppers,” convinced the worst is yet to come.

Then, in our news here in the US, the words we have heard over and over lately have been “Fiscal Cliff.” Though not all of us use “fiscal” in our everyday vocabulary, we ALL know the word “cliff” can’t be good. So, when we turn on the news, we are just praying that Congress and our President can figure out something positive–soon!

As if that isn’t enough, the economy has become an everyday topic in our world. I don’t know about you, but I can’t hear people talk about it without getting a heaviness in my chest; because the people losing their jobs or struggling to make ends meet are our family members, our neighbors, and our friends.

Whether the end of the world is near or not, we have had a rough year. We have all felt the stress of an unknown future. And many of us have entered the Christmas Season with some trepidation. But–at the risk of sounding like I am writing from the top of my soap box–I think there is one thing we have been doing, that isn’t really helpful.

This year, more than most I have heard things being referred to as Holiday–its now the Holiday tree, Holiday shopping, Holiday Season, etc. Though it may be “politically” correct, removing the name Christmas from the day, I believe removes the one thing we desperately need in our current difficulties; HOPE.

The Story of Christmas is THE story of Hope. It tells us that we haven’t been forgotten by the One who created the Universe. It reminds us that the God who hung the stars and set the planets in motion, came to Earth as one of us to save us from our brokenness. It is both the story of His greatest expression of Love–and His greatest sacrifice. Yet remembering the Christmas Story doesn’t just point us to the past, it also points us to the hope we have for the present and the future.

After Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, when He was about to return to Heaven, He said that He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20), and that he would return someday (John 21:22). By “being with us always,” Jesus meant that He would be present to us through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God that we experience when we seek Him. It is the Holy Spirit that meets us when we pray. In His Word, God promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Matthew 7:7, Jeremiah 29:13). Christmas is a reminder that the God of the Universe  wants to be present to us now–even in our hard times.

When Jesus said He would return someday, He was referring to an actual yet unknown time in which He is going to return to Earth. Though there is much that we don’t understand in our world, and though there is so much brokenness, we haven’t been forgotten by God. He is still moving amongst us, and Jesus is still planning to return. No matter what we hear on the news, how bad things seem, or who says the world is ending, our ultimate fate rests in the hands of a Loving God–A God who sent His son to Earth, to be born in a manger, and to bring Hope to us all.

Linking up with Tanya Marlow today and her Advent series, check it out!