Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
A Note from Jaime
Welcome, Friends, to UFC Women’s month-long narrative journey as we trace a scarlet cord of hope from creation to the creche and await the second coming of Christ Jesus. I wrote this advent series based on the Hebrew word for hope, which is tiqvah (tik-vaw) from the root word qavah (kaw-vaw’), meaning to wait for. In addition to using tiqvah to mean hopeful expectation, Old Testament writers used it to indicate a twisted cord. It’s the scarlet cord hanging from Rahab’s window, signaling her hope in the God of heaven and earth to deliver her from Jericho’s destruction. It’s the scarlet cord that gave this outsider a new life among God’s people and a place in the family line of the Messiah. It’s the scarlet cord that was the outward sign of an inward faith, giving her a spot in Hebrew’s great hall of faith.
Tiqvah is the cord of hope we trace from the first whisper in the Garden of Eden — of a Rescuer coming — to a young couple in Nazareth as they await the birth of their Rescuer. It tells of a great love story of a personal God making a way for His sin-stained children to be restored to Himself.
As I have crafted this series from God’s Word, historic sources, and personal observations, my prayer has been that each of you would fall deeper in love with God’s Word and hold tightly to the hope we have in the person of Jesus Christ. I truly believe the words of Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
As soon as my two youngest daughters could form words to lift their voices during family prayers, their requests have always included the word hope on repeat.
Dear God, I hope I don’t have bad dreams tonight. I hope Daddy has a good day at work. I hope I don’t get sick.
No one else in the family sprinkles this word into their prayers, so I’m not sure where their language of hopeful expectation came from except to say it is the Spirit at work in their little hearts. For a long time I smiled at the simplicity and thought rather foolishly, “I have a thing or two to teach them about addressing their Heavenly Father. Prayer isn’t just about wishes magically being granted.”
Thankfully I remained silent, not wanting to crush their willingness to talk to God. I saw a simple faith in a God Who will answer, Who will protect, and Who will follow through on what He says He will do.
Theirs is the faith of Hebrews 11:1 — Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen. Theirs is the faith of the little children before Jesus who knew that their hope was rightly placed because He held them close. Theirs is the faith of the patriarchs of the Old Testament who clung to a promise that a Savior would one day come to crush evil, to restore His people to Himself, and to establish His throne for eternity.
UFC Women’s fall study of First Thessalonians was just the beginning of a journey to learn afresh what it means to put one’s hope in the person of Jesus Christ and His promises for the future. In this letter to a young Christian church, Paul commended his friends for their steadfast hope (2:19) and used words of expectation to remind them that Jesus would return one day for them. Paul urged them to “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (5:8). This language of warfare reminds us of his words to the Ephesians when he told them in chapter 5 that Jesus’ followers face a spiritual battle and must be ready to combat the deception of the devil, the one who cunningly whispers the lie that hope is lost.
Our hearts are sick and our faith shaken in this hurting world where hope deferred has become the norm. Hope has become the dodgeball of the playground lobbed at a moving target rather than a golf ball aimed toward a small hole in the ground. The word both as a noun and a verb has lost its precision in the English language, so when we read Bible verses about hope, our response is often, “That’s nice. I hope so, too, but I really doubt that will happen for me.”
We miss that biblical hope is the cord that has pulled God’s people from creation and the beautiful, peaceful Garden of Eden to the creche in Bethlehem and the cross outside Jerusalem. We miss Paul’s message of Romans 8:18-25:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
As we count down to the great birthday party marking the first coming of our Savior, my prayer for you is that you will learn to truly hope again, knowing that your hope is not tethered to the iffy fulfillment of personal desire in a world fractured by sin but is tied to the person of Jesus Christ, the One who is coming back for His children. He is our hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19), Who made a way to take us back to the garden where sin has no say and nothing stands in the way of our relationship with Him. We proclaim with the psalmist, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and in His Word, I hope” (Psalm 130:5).
Dear Friends, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). And may you delight in the scarlet cord of hope that runs from creation to the creche as we journey together in the coming days from Genesis 1 through the early chapters of the New Testament as the long-awaited Messiah comes to earth as a baby for all people (Isaiah 11:10).
As we begin the countdown to Christmas, I encourage you to plant an amaryllis bulb and watch it come to life through this season of advent, first as a green shoot and then as a scarlet blossom to remind you of our hope in Christ and His scarlet blood shed to give us life. You will find a link here to a special video narrative and song by Christy Nockels that connects with this planting of a simple reminder of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Then join us tomorrow at our first stop along the journey to the birth of Jesus: the Garden of Eden.
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.