Christmas should be a time of hope. Think about this, Christmas is poised at the end of one year and the beginning of the next – at the crossroads of the past and the future. A previous year, with its blessings and its trials, is gone. A new year looms ahead, full of uncertainty. Yet, here is Christmas – the celebration of a birth that took place 2000 years ago – a perennial bright spot on our calendars – because God has give us hope. Christmas is a time of hope.

In Isaiah 9:6-7, we read the following prophecy: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

And one night in Bethlehem, this hope was finally fulfilled as this prophecy came true. In the first chapter of Luke, we read about God speaking as He sent an angel to appear before Mary and give her this important message: “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Nine months later, one silent night in Bethlehem, this hope for mankind had a name. God fulfilled the desire of the people in a person, his Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas – we recognize his arrival into the world as a child born to us, a son given by God. Just like He personified hope to the first century Jews who were waiting for a Messiah, a Savior, He is hope to each one of us.

And the best part is, we don’t have to wait for His Kingdom. It is available to all of us to become a part. It offers a better life both now and for eternity. Not a better life in perhaps the way you have tried to script your life, as king of your own kingdom, but a better life in the way God wants you to live as a child in His kingdom. A life filled with hope, joy, love, and peace.

When we celebrate Christmas each year, we remind ourselves afresh of the hope we have in Christ—not a thin, wishful thinking that dissipates every time we try to grasp it, but a firm, substantial confidence that we can wrap our arms around. A hope that reminds us that God is not done with us, nor with the broken world around us.

Discussion Questions:
1. What memories do you have of unwrapping gifts or looking for hidden Christmas gifts? How does the hope of Christmas—the unexpected hope that comes when God steps into our lives—affect your heart this season?
2. What promises or hopes are you currently waiting for God to fulfill?
3. Do we have the right to be frustrated with unanswered promises? Should life be “better” with God?
4. If Christmas is a reminder that the proper response to the frustration of God’s timing and unanswered prayer is faithfulness, how is faithfulness exercised in your life?
5. Spend some time praying in response to God’s Christmas gift: hope.