Hope has many different meanings. For example, I can hope against hope the Broncos are going to make the playoffs this year—they’re not. I can entertain wild hopes that I will shave 15 minutes off my half-marathon time, without actually doing extra training—I won’t. Or, I can hope that in spite of the dreary rain today, when I walk out of my office at 5 tonight, it will be snowing. Sadly, I doubt it.
But there is another kind of hope Christians know well, and that is “expectant hope.” Because of the incarnation, Christians live in expectant hope, in the sure knowledge that what is promised will be delivered.
To be sure, what is promised is not that everything will go smoothly all the time. Not that we will get everything we want. Not that we won’t be disappointed. Not that we won’t suffer. Christian hope doesn’t rule out any of that.
Instead, our hope in grounded in the angel Gabriel’s proclamation to Mary, which comes in the form of a grand, astounding promise. Gabriel’s promise to Mary is that God has regarded her and blessed her. The promise is that God is working through and with her to do amazing things in the world—even the miraculous. The promise is that God is coming, and will dwell with us in flesh and bone, drawing every inch of the created universe, every single one of us into God’s heart, where we are united with God indissolubly and irrevocably. That promise is the foundation of Christian hope.
And therefore, just as Mary receives this extraordinary promise from God in this text, so you and I receive it, too. And this promise is sure.
Love is on the way. New life is on the way. Loneliness and isolation are forever banished in Emmanuel, God with us.
Much in this world may be unreliable and tenuous, and many of our hopes will go unfulfilled. But not this one; not the best one; not the one on which our whole lives are based. This hope is sure, and we are invited to live out of that sure expectation in confidence and boldness and in joy.
Love is on the way—expect it.