Christmas Eve 2020
Hope and fear are powerful. Hope can sustain people through the most horrific moments of their lives. It is the thing that keeps them going despite the world falling apart around them. Hope is illogical. It believes against odds; it isn’t deterred by failures and setbacks. Fear is powerful too though. Leaders use it to control people, it keeps us stuck in bad situations, it whispers in our ear all the terrible things that could happen. It can literally and figuratively paralyze you. And to boot it is also illogical. You can try to explain it away with information, but it’s not gotten rid of that easily. Pastor Ted mentioned a line from a Christmas carol in his sermon, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. I have sung the line many times, but it got me thinking what exactly does that mean? So of course, off to the internet we go. Turns out no one really knows what the original author meant by that poetic deep sounding line. But we can take some guesses at what he is saying.
Hope and fear are something we will all experience. It’s part of our humanity. If you have an imagination, then you have the ability to fear things and hope for things. Think of all the things that you have worried about and stressed over. The things that have caused tight knots in your stomach- your child’s choices, sickness, loss, the future, the list is endless and it’s exhausting. Now think of the things you have hoped for over the years- reconciled relationships, healing from addiction, peace between countries, encouragement in the midst of suffering. This list too could go on and on. Our whole lives are made up of this back and forth tension between fear and hope, the feelings of panic and reassurance. The line from our song tells us that these two powerful driving forces are going to collide. They will come together in a small baby, Emmanuel.
Christ has come to address our fears. It’s not about ignoring them or pretending like we don’t have any. It’s about bringing them and leaving our fears at his feet. He knows we’re terrified. He knows that things that eat away at you and rob you of your peace. He is prepared to walk with you through your fears, to carry them for you. We can try to deal with our fears in other ways, but he’s the only one who can truly help us conquer them. He is also the fulfillment of all of our hopes. They are embodied in him. We can try to put our hope in something or someone else, but he’s the only one who can truly give us a hope that can sustain us.
This year has been a rollercoaster of fear and hope. There have been days thick with anxiety, and moments where God’s peace has quieted worried souls. Tonight our hopes and fears are met in the birth of our savior. We celebrate this Christmas full of mixed emotions, knowing that wherever we’re at Christ is prepared to meet us.
- What fears are currently weighing on you? What’s at the root of these fears?
- How has fear affected your life and your choices? How has hope affected your life and your choices?
- How has God brought you hope this year?
- What do you think the line “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight” means?