This morning on the third Sunday of Advent I bring you good news of a great joy. Joy. What a great word, what a great quality. There is nothing quite like it. How many here would like to have more of it? All of us I bet. Goldie Hawn said she would. She told an interviewer one time, “I have other lofty goals, like seeking out what the meaning of joy is. And travelling the world and speaking to people from scientists, to Zulu tribes people, to aborigines to find out what joy is to them and how we can learn to access it” (http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/09/23/1032734111652.html). That’s a great goal, but I fear she is on the wrong track. I might be able to save her a bunch of time and money. I would start with Psalm 16:11. This is a verse that goes straight for the jugular. This is one of those cut to the chase verses in the Bible. No beating around the bush. Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. This verse declares some of the most profound truth in all of Scripture with power and beauty and hope. It speaks of things we value most supremely, life, joy and the presence of God.
To start off on the right foot, let’s talk about hope and the advent of hope. Hope is a wonderful thing. We are hopeful about a lot of things. How many of you hope you don’t get the flu this season? How many of you hope the Seahawks win the Super Bowl? How many of you students hope to do well on your assignments and tests? How many of you hope you get a raise in the next year? How many of you hope to lose a little weight, maybe after the holidays? A farmer plows in hopes of a harvest. A student studies in hopes of good grades. We practice in hopes of playing well. We take medicine in hopes of getting well. We court and date in hopes of getting married. We save in hopes of purchasing something or retiring. We hope we get what we want for Christmas. This is hope in the conventional sense. It’s a desire for something good in the future that is uncertain. This is hope as the world knows it and as we all have experienced it. It may not happen, it may be short lived, who knows? On Thursday I hoped for a great feast with my family. That happened. Yesterday some of you hoped the Cougars would win, but they didn’t. I hope the Packers win today, but who knows. I hope my preparation for this sermon about hope will be helpful to someone who is struggling with hope or hopelessness. In the normal course of the day and week and year, we all think about, talk about and feel this kind of hope in a million different ways, small and large. This is conventional hope. The hope that the Bible is concerned with is of a completely different sort. It’s important that we get this at the outset or we will miss something very important. From the Biblical perspective the hope of the world, in the end, is no hope. The reason for this is because the world is without God.