“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:18-25 [emphasis mine]
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith, hope and love:
Faith and hope are temporary. They are given for while we wait. Indeed, they exist because we wait. Their existence is dependent on the absence of Jesus, of God-with-us. For where we see Jesus we no longer have need for faith or hope. Where Jesus breaks into the present – made manifest in his Body, the local church, empowered by the same Spirit that raised him from the dead – we see fulfilments of hope, received through faith. And when we see Jesus face-to-face, in person, we will be truly faith-less and hope-less, because both will be completely fulfilled in him. Faith and hope remain for now; but love is greater, because love alone is eternal, will never be fulfilled, but experienced for ever.
Faith exists in the very situations which would appear to deny faith. Hope exists in the very situations which would appear to be hopeless. The creative kingdom which is brought about by the paradox that God, in Jesus, is both with us and absent – paradox: neither truth denying or even qualifying the other, but complementing one another in mystery that confounds human reasoning – is the very means by which the goal of faith and hope – their con-summation within love – will be brought about.
And that is why Advent is all about expectant waiting, hopeful anticipation and cheerful preparation...