A Thrill of Hope

By Pastor Mark Tanious

It’s a story that is so spectacular and so enthralling, it captures the imagination of all people. No matter the age, time in history, or cultural background, people have been awed by the Christmas story.


Because it is so thrilling. That sweet baby lying in a manger is God’s answer to the brokenness and sin that has plagued humanity ever since our rebellion began. Jesus came to do what none of us could do. God came down and became one of us, so he could live like us, die for us, and live again with us. Christmas is God’s solution to our deepest struggles. That is wonderful news.

But, here’s the catch. Christmas is all about waiting. This season is historically known as Advent, which means “coming.” Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ first coming or arrival. But, his arrival was not without waiting. In fact, God made a promise to Adam and Eve that one of their children would crush Satan (Genesis 3:15). And God made promises to Israel about a coming Messiah-King (e.g. hero) who would rescue his people.

But, after hundreds of years, God’s people were still waiting. Promises were made, but were not yet fulfilled. God invited his people not just to wait, but to wait with hope.

Hope is eager expectation. Hope is waiting with the assurance that what one is waiting for will one day come true. The arrival of Jesus at Christmas is the fulfillment of hope. We celebrate God’s faithfulness and goodness. We are reminded that God will always come through on his promises.

And yet, here we are, two thousand years later, and we are still waiting. Waiting for Jesus’ second coming. Life is still hard. We struggle with relational wounds, disease, family strife, financial hardships, depression, addiction, abuse. We find ourselves asking the same question as God’s people did so long ago. Will God fulfill his promises? Can we still have hope?

Advent is meant to stoke the flames of hope in our hearts once again. No matter what is going on externally or internally, we want to fix our hearts on the incredible gift of Jesus. When we do this, we will experience the life-sustaining, life-giving thrill of hope. And that’s why our sermon series this Christmas is entitled: Thrill of Hope.

Messages for Thrill of Hope series:

December 3

Need for Hope—Lamentations 3. We will explore the importance of lament and crying out to God. We will see how lament doesn’t diminish our hope, but actually fuels our hope.

December 10

Waiting in Hope—Psalm 42. We will deal with the struggle of waiting. How can we wait and not give up hope? What does it look like to fight to keep hope alive?

December 17

Assurance of Hope—Matthew 1. We will look at the genealogy of Jesus. It may seem strange, but the names found in Jesus’ family tree actually show us that God is still at work even in the most broken people. And we will see how even in our worst moments, God is still working out his sovereign plan.

December 24 (Morning)

Thrill of Hope—Luke 2:39-56. We will see what gave Mary such joy at the news of her unexpected pregnancy. The baby in her womb is the answer to the deepest problems of humanity. She gets that and celebrates the arrival of hope.

December 24 (Candlelight service)

Fulfillment of Hope—Galatians 4:4-5. Jesus entered the world at just the right time. God knew what he was doing in sending Jesus to be the fulfillment of our hope. We will celebrate the significance of Jesus’ arrival together on Christmas Eve.