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Categorized | From the Pulpit

The Inside of the Present

Pastor Dallas Burgeson

The Springs Church

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

Hope can sometimes feel like too much, because it often asks very tired people to lean into the future with expectation—to prepare for something beautiful when beauty seems so unlikely. There’s simply less strain on us when we decide not to hope.

Because we’ve all been burned before. 

For many of us, it seems like let-downs make a much bigger pile in our lives than the pile of hopes that have truly come through. It seems better to not open the possibility of the present and to find it more painful than the life we were already living.

What if Jesus had not come to be born to a virgin named Mary? What if, when the angel visited her, she had said, “No, thank you” rather than “May your word to me be fulfilled”?

What if, when Joseph was told that the baby his fiancé was carrying was placed there by the Holy Spirit, he told God, “I don’t know if I can believe that”?

Many of our hopes that have been dashed were placed in our hearts by people who had something personal to gain through our hope:

 A company with goods and services for sale;

A political party with a well-planned agenda to advance;

A personal relation with scores to settle or needs to be fulfilled. 

We’ve let lots of different kinds of hopes into the sanctuaries of our souls. Maybe this has been the problem all along.

One night, just outside Bethlehem, some shepherds were offered a very specific hope: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”

In this, there were two separate steps of hope.

First, they had to decide if they would go to Bethlehem and see if this sign from God even existed. Many of us abort our hope right here. We allow our pasts to predetermine our futures. We say “No, thank You, God.” For us, hope of any kind… has no place.

But the shepherds took that first step. And it seems there was a second: Even after they saw the sign of this baby, there were—as it turns out—at least 30 more years of hoping:

Would this little boy actually fulfill these promises of a Savior for all people?

We all have a present—the gift of Jesus,and the now—we could unwrap. Will we let it pass, or look inside? For billions of people, the present of hope in Jesus’ birth has brought immeasurable, lasting joy. Could you dare to hope for that?

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