“Hope” – the 1st Sunday in Advent

“Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. This testimony of faith is what previous generations were commended for. Faith empowers us to see that the universe was created and beautifully coordinated by the power of God’s words! He spoke and the invisible realm gave birth to all that is seen.” – Hebrews 11:1-2

author Derek Maul in Wake Forest

This is a hugely important day. Especially in the context of 2020. Because Advent – the four weeks leading up to Christmas – is all about “expectation.” And there is no expectation without hope. And, I believe, there is no hope without a sense (at least partially) of already knowing.

I’ll let you chew on that for a bit. And while you do, here is my introduction to these coming few weeks, from today all the way to December 25.

If you want a deeper examination, and at the same time a beautiful devotional journey, then please read my book In My Heart I Carry A Star (you can find it by clicking on the title). The book features many of my favorite family stories.

Everything you need to know about hope in one frame:

It is our tradition here at Maul-Hall to get Christmas decorating launched the day after Thanksgiving. This year, knowing we cannot repeat 2019’s epic achievement of having all the children and grandchildren here at the same time, it took a strong act of our collective will to get the ball rolling.

But we did, and it wasn’t long before – Christmas music playing in the background – we entered into the spirit of things.

That is when I took this candid photograph of Rebekah decorating the tree. Do you see her expression? It tells the story of hope.

Rebekah’s sense of expectation and anticipation is rooted in something of substance, something real. Evidence, the Bible tells us, of that which – quite often – we cannot yet see.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see… – Hebrews 11:1

What’s remarkable about this is that God – through faith – gives us something concrete that we can be sure of, even when we cannot – or are unable to – see much of anything! This is not wishful or fantastical thinking, but hope: the evidence of things we cannot see.

  • The CEB calls it “The proof of what we don’t see.
  • The King James uses, “The evidence of things not seen.”
  • The NIV translates, “The assurance of what we do not see.”
  • “The conviction of things not seen,” is how the NRSV frames the idea.
  • Then there’s The Message, “Our handle on what we can’t see.”
  • And – my favorite (at least for today), all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.That’s the TPT.

I like the TPT phrasing a lot: “Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.”

Rebekah’s expression tells the truth about hope. Hope is something of substance. We don’t just imagine, we know.

This Good Word for today:

This is the word, the essential and foundational truth that I would like us to carry with us as we move into December 2020. It’s the idea that when we live in faith (and by “live” I mean “live into” something deliberate and active, an applied kind of belief) we are actually stepping into and being hope – not just for ourselves but for other people.

Jesus doesn’t call us to wait around while looking up, wishing for an angel to descend from the sky and hold up a “believe” sign! No, Jesus calls us to put up the tree, to decorate it, to turn the lights on ourselves, and then to stand in the light until we are charged up enough to bring Good News and hope and love and more into the world. This is the world we occupy in Jesus’ name, and we are called not just to point to the light but to be the light.

It’s like the angel said to the disciples in Acts 1: “[People] of Galilee, why are you standing here staring into heaven?”

Hope is an action word! Hope is “all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.” Hope is not just for us, but a life-giving truth that we are privileged (and encouraged) to share!

Hope, love, peace, joy, and more – DEREK

Christmas message photogrpahy The Messiah

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Just wanted to thank you for your words. I pulled your book out of our Advent box on the day after Thanksgiving. I think I bought an old copy of it at a used bookstore, or Friends of the Library. And I must have read parts of it because I had sticky notes throughout it! This old brain is getting older! Anyway, I read the intro through The First day of Advent, today and I am blessed. Your wife’s picture reflects me these last few days joyful, but missing the kids while decorating alone. I too love Advent and your stories remind me of mine and my family. But more importantly they restore, resurrect and fill me with abundant joy for this anticipated special season. Covid has got us all down at times, but the hope and love of Jesus rises above all … always. Thank you. Kathleen j. Robison

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