The Christmas message of Bishop Simo Peura of the Diocese of Lapua, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
TIME OF HOPE
[Based on the Finnish version of the Christmas carol “Adeste Fideles” (“O Come, All Ye Faithful”)]
Christmas and Advent before it are a time of hope. It’s expressed in this Christmas carol (Virsikirja 27:1):
“Come celebrate the fulfillment of hope,
hurry up, Bethlehem calls now.
Seek the child, the king of heaven
and bow down
and bow down
and worship the Lord.”
Hope is akin to expectation. Not everything has happened yet, something is missing. The more the hopeful person longs, the more relevant the object of hope becomes. There is a fulfillment of hope to be sought and eventually also bowed down to.
* * *
There is still a need for hope today. The world is in the grip of a pandemic, and the prospects for the future are hazy. Climate change is booming slowly but surely. Extreme phenomena recur. We have entered an era of sharp confrontations. The loudest and the pushiest get their messages across. Goodwill seems to be found nauseating. So it’s no wonder if fear, the opposite of hope, creeps into my mind. How can we build a future in such a world? Can you handle it? Can you still hope?
* * *
Hope is especially needed when faith in the future is shaken or when love is waning and the power of selfishness grows. However, hope arises in spite of the negative outlook for the future. Therefore, hope is even called a divine virtue.
Hope is brought about by God who comes to us. He leads forward in the midst of threats. He encourages you, cheers you up, and makes you trust and rejoice. And most wonderfully, he uses well-meaning neighbors, including you, to maintain hope.
It’s characteristic of hope that it awakens slowly and gradually. Noticing it banishes despair, darkness, and fear. The expectation is being met. As once in Bethlehem, when the Son of God was born. Now is the time for hope.
Wishing you a peaceful and merry Christmas,