A daily reflection drawing from Advent Bible passages – to help us grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.
Hello and welcome to day 20 of the Advent Collective.
This Advent and building up to Christmas we’re thinking a lot about hope – what does it mean to have hope? What does hope look like for the city of Sheffield?
I think the passage for today sums up well the hope that we have, it’s 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 but I’m going to focus on verses 9-11 of chapter 5, which I’ve found the message translation really helpful for. They say,
“God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.”
He died for us, a death that triggered life…we’re alive with him.
Out of Jesus’s death on the cross, one of the most horrific ways to die, came life, for you and for me. These words around life remind me of one of my favourite verses in the Bible, John 10:10, where Jesus says, ‘the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’
I don’t know if you can recall a moment when you’ve felt truly and fully alive, maybe a moment when you’ve thought, ‘this is what it’s all about’. Maybe it’s when you’re out in the Peaks, or you’re watching a beautiful sunset on Bole Hills and you just feel in awe of God’s creation. I also think there’s something about being right in the place where you know God wants you to be at that moment, that can bring about a feeling of being fully alive. What’s the passion that God’s given you that, when you pursue it, you feel fully alive? Or what are the skills God has grown in you, that when you use them, it gives you life and glorifies God? On the flipside, what drains you of life, what are the things that steal that fulness of life away, that maybe aren’t from God?
For me, when I think about this, I’m drawn back to my language year abroad in Ecuador, working with a mission organisation, Latin Link. I was working with a project called Vida en Abundancia, which means life in abundance. Part of their work is with children and young people with learning difficulties. There was this one day where we were invited to an event that the council were putting on in a local park, which involved participation and performances from a few different schools from around the city. With this being Ecuador, we only seemed to know about it the day before and hadn’t got anything prepared when the life in abundance project was called up to the stage to perform. I thought we might just have to ask the organisers to move swiftly onto the next group, but two of the girls from the project suddenly made their way up onto the stage and asked if they could dance! So some music was put on and it was a beautiful moment when lots of the other young people at the event got up to join them and dance along together. It was so special to watch the girls’ faces light up as they got to spend those moments with a whole bunch of new friends, expressing themselves in a way they knew how to, without any inhibition. And I just remember thinking that, right there, that was them enjoying life to the full, life in abundance, and working with them taught me a lot about what it means to live my life in abundance too.
That feeling of the fulness of life is just a glimpse of the life we’re promised for eternity with God, for those who know Jesus as their saviour. But we also don’t have to wait for it to start when Jesus returns, we can know life in all its fulness here and now, as we let hope settle in our hearts. I think part of having hope, is knowing the full life that Jesus offers, that doesn’t depend on our outward circumstances, but it comes from knowing that Jesus offers us life. It’s not something that we have to conjure up, or strive for ourselves but something that Jesus won for us on the cross, it’s a gift of grace.
Where do you need to ask God to show you life in all its fulness today? And how can you share that fulness of life with the people around you?
Jesus, thank you that your death brought us life, and that we can look forward to an eternity of life with you. Help us to also recognise where you are offering us life in all it fulness right now and help us to share that with the people around us too…Amen.