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Matthew 24:36-44

“The Glasses of Hope” 

I want to start with something funny. I heard about this couple who moved to a new neighborhood. While having breakfast one morning, the wife looked out the window and noticed their neighbor was washing their clothes. The wife said to her husband, “I think they don’t know how to wash. The clothes they washed are so dirty. I am sure they didn’t use detergent.” Week after week, it was the same. She looked out the window, saw the clothes, and made the same comments about how dirty their laundry was. One morning she looked out the windows in the same way. She was surprised that their clothes were so clean. She said to her husband, “Honey! Look at them. Finally, they learned how to wash.” Her husband smiled and said, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

We can all relate to this story in some ways. Each of us has a window we look through to see the world, see people, and see things. However, sometimes we need to notice what we look at things through. The window is our mindset, such as bias and prejudice. The window might be the principle of our lives, which is formed by what we have learned and by what we have experienced. No doubt that the principle might be great when we first made it. But, my point is that it is time to take another look at our window, or maybe it is time to clean and renew it again. Our window should be God’s Word. In other words, we should wear glasses of God’s Words. It is as if we wear yellow glasses, we can see the yellow-colored world; if we wear black-colored glasses, we can see a black world.

Similarly, we may see a hopeful world if we wear glasses of hope. However, we wonder where such glasses are. Here is the good news: God gave us the glasses of hope, Jesus Christ. If those who believe in him wear them, they see the world, people, and things differently. In other words, let’s wear glasses of Christ so we may see the world, people, and things through Christlikeness. It is like wearing Christlikeness. It is like growing up to Christlikeness in everyday life. Like the Apostle Paul says, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). It is time to renew our faith, like cleaning our windows.

I want to share with you a story of a gentleman I met him in a hospital where I served as a chaplain. He wore glasses of strong Christian faith his whole life. In other words, he was born and grew up in a Christian family. He attended Sunday School during his childhood and was confirmed in faith. He served as a Sunday School teacher, a member of the choir, and a committee member. He memorized many scripture verses including the Sermon of Mount. What a perfect Christian! He also never doubted he was a perfect Christian. However, when he heard his diagnosis of cancer, he suspected his faith, thinking about what he did wrong in God’s eyes. He thought God was punishing him because he did something wrong. He punished himself by not eating, speaking, or taking any medical treatment. The reason I visited him was because his nurse made that request of me. Of course, he rejected several chaplains who tried to visit him. His nurse asked me if I could do anything for him, and to please help him.

When I visited him, he didn’t look at me at all. When I greeted him I said, “Hello, I am a Chaplain Jenny,” without looking at me, he said, “I am one hundred percent Christian” with an angry voice. I knew it was his way of rejecting me, like he was saying, “I don’t need you.” However, I challenged him, “I don’t think you are a one hundred percent Christian. You may be fifty percent Christian or a little more. Suddenly, he looked at me angrily and asked, “Where are you from, India or the Philippines?”  I said, “I am from Korea. What about you? Where are you from?”  He was Caucasian, so it wasn’t necessary to ask the question, but I asked him automatically without thinking. However, that was a key to opening his mind. He was a second-generation German immigrant. Beginning with the words, “I am a German American,” he shared his story with me. He was wearing glasses of a strict upbringing in a Christian family. It gave him a heavy burden. He believed if he couldn’t be a perfect Christian, he would be punished. He believed in the God of judgment, without forgiveness and love. I shared with him about the God of forgiveness and love and the God of healing that I have experienced. After hearing my story, he cried at the good news of forgiveness and love. I led him in prayers that he may meet the God of forgiveness and love. That night, he confessed, crying, “I met God. I met Jesus Christ, who loves me. I am born again in Jesus Christ. So whether he heals me or not, I am fine in God, but I will receive the treatment.” He changed the glasses of his faith, to now wearing glasses of hope, which was expecting God’s healing. Finally, he renewed his faith in God, and later on, he became cancer free.

Today is the first Sunday of “Advent.” Advent is the first day in a new year of the Christian calendar. If you look at November 27 (today) in the Lectionary Calendar, you will find a note “Beginning Lectionary year A” on it. It means the first day of a new year for Christians. It is very important for Christians because it implies the profound meaning and confession of the Christian faith. The word “Advent” is from “Adventus” in Latin, and it is translated to “Parousia” in Greek, which means “coming” or “arriving at.” Advent in the Christian calendar means “the season that is waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, Christians begin the first day of a new year with “hope,” Christ comes back to us, and Christ brings a new world filled with hope, peace, joy, and love. As we may have new wishes and decisions in the New Year, let us renew our faith in Jesus Christ. As a symbol, we lit the candle of hope. May the light of hope we lit today make your new year bright, hopeful, and peaceful.

Beginning with the candle of hope, we light unique candles each Sunday in the season of Advent; three purples, one pink or red, and one white. On Christmas Day, we light them one by one. Each candle has a special meaning. The first candle is the symbol of hope; the second is peace; the third is joy; the fourth is love, and the fifth white candle is the symbol of the light of Christ. It symbolizes that Jesus Christ comes to the dark world as the light with hope, peace, joy, and love. As Jesus comes into the world, we pray that Jesus brings us hope, peace, joy, love, and light in the world. Therefore, we begin the season of Advent, waiting for the hope that Jesus Christ brings us. It is time to renew our faith in God as we begin a new year.

We don’t know when Jesus will come to us. As today’s scripture says, “no one knows that time and the day, only God knows.” Please be ready at every moment for God, wearing glasses of hope. If you see despair and hopelessness, it is time to clean your glasses of faith. Let us check our glasses of faith so that we may see the world, people, and things as God sees them. May you find hope in your family, relatives, and friends in this advent season. Thanks be to God. Amen!