“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day[b] your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
Hope, Peace, Joy and Love Advent Gifts
Props – box wrapped in non Christmas paper with four pieces of paper inside numbered envelopes with Peace, Joy, Love and Hope in large letters on each.
Show the box and ask what it is
It looks like a Christmas present doesn’t it. But it’s not.
It’s an advent present.
What do you think might be inside? (
Let’s look. I need 4 volunteers to come and open it with me and show everyone what’s inside
Let the children open the envelopes and watch their faces – disappointment?
That’s not what you expected is it?
Do you feel a bit disappointed?
It’s not exactly fabulous presents you might expect is it?
Or is it? We might as well look at them anyway.
Peace; we share the peace every week in Church. We share the peace that Jesus shared with his disciples. We share the Peace of God with each other and we go out into our lives ready to share it all week long. It is something God wants us to do. When we know peace and feel peace and share peace then we share the pure truth of God.
Joy; this is more than just happiness.
This is the joy of love from God and love of God. This is the joy of knowing that we are loved entirely; as Jesus tells us in the gospels. This is the joy in knowing that Jesus came and lived and died for us. This is the joy that we want to share because it’s so awesome.
Jesus came as man because God loves us so much that He wanted to know what it was to be us.
Jesus died for us because he loves us that much.
We are loved.
We are called to love others.
This fourth present is the present of Hope.
Hope of a good life.
Hope of being loved.
Hope in the dark times.
Let the children sit down
All over the world, there are children and grown-ups who have lost all hope in their lives.
For one reason or another, life is so hard that sometimes it feels like the whole world is against them. When things are that bad, hope becomes really important. Hope is everything.
Hope is a great present; a wonderful present.
Today is both the first Sunday of Advent and World Aids Day.
Today is the day we light the first candle of the advent wreath; the candle associated with Hope. And today is a chance to think about what HOPE means for those living with HIV.
It is estimated that 34 million people are living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, about one in five adults is infected with HIV.
You’ll see in the displays in church today that there are four key parts of support for people living with HIV; these four parts make the word HOPE.
There is Health and Healing
This is both the practical and emotional support of doctors and nurses providing the advice, care and medicines to those living with HIV. It is also the prayerful healing that I saw being given to those living with HIV in Zambia; the prayer itself and the compassion being poured into communities from churches. They receive Hope through the anti retrovirals and through prayer.
There is support for Orphans.
Terrifying numbers of children in Sub Saharan Africa are orphans; having suffered the loss of one or both parents (and many others members of their family) due to Aids. These children often look after younger siblings as well as themselves with minimal family support. I saw the work being done in Zambia in feeding these orphans, educating them and supporting them through child sponsorship programmes. These orphans have hope; through practical and emotional support from the churches in their communities.
There is Prejudice but there Education to battle against it.
HIV and AIDS throws a family into a world of darkness and fear. Hope can be provided through the work of churches but this Hope is halted when those living with HIV, or suffering bereavement due to HIV, are treated badly because of the way other people treat them. Programmes of education about what HIV is and how it is spread and how it can be managed are so important in our country and across the world. When people know the facts then they can have Hope.
So I wonder; what does the Bible have to say to us about HOPE
I want to read you verse 13 of Romans chapter 15. Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Romans Paul boldly identifies God as the God of hope. In our world it can be too easy to think of God as being far away; this is not so for people in Zambia. In Zambia I met families ravaged by HIV yet full of hope. Families with almost nothing to eat; yet sustained with Hope. Children with no toys or beds; yet comforted by hope.
God is a God of Hope.
As we light/see the first advent candle lit today we are reminded that God is Hope.
Hope in our hearts.
Hope in our lives.
Hope to be shared.
Hope to be nurtured.
God wants us to open our hearts to hope.
He wants us to take that hope and build on it and share it.
If we take one thing out from church today let it be that God wants us to share His Hope; bringing hope, joy, peace and faith to others