Cross of Christ,
In the same way you don’t really know faithfulness until it costs something, you can’t really put your finger on where your hope is until there is darkness and a lack of answers, fear and uncertainty. As you are bombarded with bad news every day, in a society where ‘change’ seems to the be only constant, have you thought about where your hope is?
This past Sunday we focused in on one subtle but profound way we distort hope: nostalgia. Nostalgia was originally a medical diagnosis from the 1600’s used to “describe the pain a sick person feels because he is not in his native land, or fears never to see it again”. There are many ways we see this in our lives – from the resurgence of movies from our childhood like Jurassic Park, Marvel comics, and Star Wars to the results of one study that indicated 70% of people stalk their exes on the site – but when it comes to Christians we can be prone to nostalgia in ways like thinking, “If I can just get back to those kind of quiet times my relationship with Jesus would be better”, "If I could just get back to that group of friends, I would feel close to Jesus again. And in particular, in Orange County, there is a nostalgia that causes people to say, “This church isn’t like Calvary Chapel in the 60’s, or Mariners in 1997, or Rockharbor in 2004”.
There are multiple problems with nostalgia. The first is that it generally results in despair or delusion – despair that ‘things will never be that good again’ or delusion that things were better than they actually were. For Christians, it also removes Jesus as the hero or Giver of whatever was good and carries an expectation you can’t find in the Bible: that God work the same way twice. More critically, I believe many Christians can cherish a sense of nostalgia and quietly, without realizing it, live into a place they don’t have any hope.
One of the crucial things to see at Christmas is the reality of hope in Jesus. The manger was good news after centuries of seeming silence from God. There were centuries of rebellion from his people, of being conquered and in exile, and then being brought back to the land God promised them. God didn’t fulfill his promises immediately; he orchestrated his plan of redemption on his own timeline…but there was always hope. You may be in a season of wondering when God is going to act or you may be wondering why a particular is circumstance is happening, the manger – or more particular the Jesus in the manger – is God’s “yes” to all of his promises and proof that there is always hope in the midst of fear and uncertainty.
Opportunities to Serve and Give
Kids Ministry: Help disciple the kids and serve the parents of our church by serving in Kids Ministry. We currently need 14 volunteers to get to the sustainable and healthy rhythm of volunteers needing to serve only one time per month. Sign up here.
Sponsor a Family: Help families in need have a Christmas they wouldn’t have otherwise. My wife, Kim, shared her story of being raised by a single mom and being blessed one Christmas by strangers who provided presents for her and her brother to wake up to. We are adopting families in Orange County and you can help sponsor one by signing up here.
With faith and hope,