I imagine that I have grabbed your attention starting a Christmas newsletter with a picture of a hawk. I promise you, I’ll explain later.
This Christmas season our church’s theme was “Hope”. With all the horrific and sad news on TV this year, hope is something we all need. Hebrews 6:19 tells us that “We have hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Being a lover of symbolism, I researched the anchor.
Christians of ancient times used secret symbols to identify themselves. Most of us know of the fish and the cross. The anchor was a Christian symbol of hope. Many have been found engraved in the cemeteries of Rome. It is interesting to note that the Greek word ankura for anchor resembled en kurio which meant “in the Lord”. Use of puns was common. Some believe when Latin was chosen over Greek as their primary language, that the symbol of the anchor disappeared.
This anchor is from Thomas Vautorollier, a French printer and Hueguenot in the late 1500’s. Note the hand above the anchor reaching down from heaven.
I love the idea of an anchor. Who wants to set out on the mercy of the sea--a life adrift? When the seas are calm, we don’t think much about our anchor or where the waves will take us. It’s when the waves swell and the winds blow and the ride gets rough that we turn to our anchor to hold us fast. It was such a great hope and faith that inspired Horatio Spafford to pen that beautiful, touching hymn “It is Well with My Soul” after losing his four daughters. He had the assurance that they were resting in God’s arms and his faith sustained him through many hardships.
Now back to the hawk. One day I looked out my bedroom window and I saw this amazing bird sitting on a birch tree limb in the middle of my backyard. I love to take pictures and I wanted this badly. I had little faith that I would get outside in time and be able to sneak up on this bird. As I approached, I took a couple of pictures in case he flew away. He had his back to me and when I was lined up perfectly for this picture he turned and looked at me. He didn’t fly away startled as other birds do. It was a brief moment of acknowledgement and then spreading out his big wings wide and strong, he flew off into the woods. I was so grateful for this opportunity and I love this picture if I do say so myself.
Every day I look for his return hoping to see him again. This branch is the perfect location to survey the entire backyard for prey. I have never seen him again. I am grateful for the picture he allowed me to take.
This reminds me of hope for Christians. I can hope and surmise that this hawk will return, but it’s a wavering hope. The branch remains empty, just as the cross is empty. As Christians, we have the hope as an anchor, firm and secure. We know that just as we celebrate Jesus birthday on Christmas, that He will return and he is faithful and just in his promise that one day we will not have the worries and pains of this world. So, Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s gift of hope that he gave to us on Christmas day in the form of a Savior, Jesus Christ. May you know the true meaning of Christmas and your life be one full of hope.