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From the Pastor
A Message from Dr. Buckley
Finding Your Way Home:  Restoration of Hope

It is now December. Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is quickly approaching. Quite frankly, I am reluctant to emphasize a Christmas theme here in my pastor’s column. It is not that I do not like Christmas; I love Christmas, every part of it. My reluctance is because at this time of the year we are all inundated with TV commercials, decorations, presents, trees, music, movies, cards, letters, and get-togethers. We tend to lose the significance of Christmas in the overload of the season. Let’s take a step back and simply allow the simple message of Christmas to encourage our hearts.

Whatever else Christmas might be, it is fundamentally a demonstration beyond all doubt, that God keeps His Word. He promised He would come…and He came. On that cold night in Bethlehem in a far corner of the Roman Empire, Jesus Christ the Son of God, was miraculously born. Just at a time when the nation of Israel had given up hope, Christ stepped out of eternity into time through the Incarnation. He said he would come, and He did.

In the beautiful Christmas hymn O Holy Night, the song writer expressed the message of the Incarnation this way:

Oh holy night!

The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Christmas is fundamentally the restoration of our hope. For many of us it has been a long time since our hearts have felt a thrill of hope.In Scripture, according to the Hebrew and Greek words translated by the word “hope” and according to the biblical usage, hope is an indication of certainty. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Hope in the New Testament is a confident assurance in what God has promised to do on our behalf in Christ. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if this Christmas, we allowed the Christ to restore our hope?

Dr. James Dobson once related a story of an elderly woman named Stella who was struggling with her first Christmas alone. Her husband had died just a few months prior through cancer. Now, several days before Christmas, she felt terribly alone. Her loneliness was so great she decided she was not going to decorate for Christmas.

Late that afternoon the doorbell rang, and there was a delivery boy with a box.  He said, "Would you sign here?" She invited him to step inside and closed the door to get away from the cold. She signed the paper and said, "What's in the box?" The young man laughed and opened up the flap, and inside was a little puppy, a golden Labrador retriever. The delivery boy picked up the squirming pup and explained, "This is for you, Ma'am. He's six weeks old, completely housebroken." The young puppy began to wiggle in happiness at being released from captivity.

"Who sent this?" Stella asked. The young man set the animal down and handed her an envelope and said, "It's all explained here in this envelope, Ma'am. The dog was bought last July while its mother was still pregnant. It was meant to be a Christmas gift to you." The young man then handed her a book, How to Care for Your Labrador Retriever.

In desperation she again asked, "Who sent me this puppy?" As the young man turned to leave, he said, "Your husband, Ma'am. Merry Christmas." She opened up the letter from her husband. He had written it three weeks before he died and left it with the kennel owners to be delivered with the puppy as his last Christmas gift to her. The letter was full of love and encouragement and admonishments to be strong. He vowed that he was waiting for the day when she would join him. He had sent her this young animal to keep her company until then.

She wiped away the tears, put the letter down, and then remembering the puppy at her feet, she picked up that golden furry ball and held it to her neck. Then she looked out the window at the lights that outlined the neighbor's house, and she heard on the radio in the kitchen the strains of "Joy to the World, the Lord has Come." Suddenly Stella felt the most amazing sensation of hope washing over her. Her heart felt a joy and a wonder greater than the grief and loneliness.

"Little fella," she said to the dog, "There's a box down in the basement I'll bet you'd like. It's got a little Christmas tree in it and some decorations and some lights that are going to impress you. And there's a manger scene down there. Let's go get it."

Clare Boothe Luce, wife of the publisher of Lifeand Time Magazines, once said “There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”  It is my prayer that each of us would allow the Incomparable Christ of Christmas to restore our hope this year.



Dr. Andy Buckley
Interim Pastor
Contact the Interim Pastor at Dr. Andy Buckley.


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