In the Advent foursome of Peace, Joy, Love, and Hope, this year’s fourth Sunday at our church was Hope.

Our pastor’s children’s message started out with a plain brown paper bag.

“What’s in the bag?” We don’t know.

“What do we hope is in the bag?” A present!

Which makes a lot of sense, actually, because the youngest members of the congregation have a fair amount of experience with children’s messages already, and children’s messages that begin with something that needs to be opened up usually end with them getting something. Usually something they will like.

So while they are hoping for something they don’t see, they have grounds for that hope. It may be childish, but it’s not unreasonable.

And in this case, hope did not disappoint them.

It was tangerines. We hope they will be for us, and they are! We hope they will be good ones … yes, juicy!

You could forget that something so simple is shot through with hope.

What do we hope for when we come here? Before we even walk through the door?

That people will smile. Be glad to see us. Maybe hug us or high five us or shake our hands. Talk to us.

That we will feel welcome here, and love.

Let’s pray.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

… and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

four candles alight against a dark background