Hopes and fears
December 14, 2009
by Rev. Paul Marggraf, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Delano

Phillip Brooks, a famous 19th century American preacher, wrote the hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” for the Sunday school of his church in Philadelphia in 1868. He was possibly influenced by a trip to the Holy Land he had made a few years earlier.

In that hymn, there is the line, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Did you ever wonder what that phrase means?

We can understand the part about “hopes.” God’s people had been waiting for the birth of the promised Savior for centuries, just as we now wait for His final coming in glory. Both then and now, the coming of Christ is reason for wonderful hope!

But what about the “fears” in that hymn verse? Actually, the coming of Christ brings those, too. What if he doesn’t come at all? What if he comes in anger? What if we don’t qualify? Those are all fearful prospects, to say the least.

The good news is that the message of Christmas confirms our hopes and takes away our fears. Jesus was born to win salvation for us, which is much more than we could ever hope for. Jesus was born so that we can enjoy eternity without fear.

What are your fears this holiday season? Bring them to the manger of Christ, who lived, died, and rose again, and see that there is an end to fear. This is the “everlasting Light” of Bethlehem.

“O Little town of Bethlehem,

How still we see thee lie;

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight.”

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.