Tuesday, December 10

Reader: “How should we live during the season of Advent?”

Response: “Hear the words of Paul written to you.” (Can you hear his voice?)

Scripture: Romans 15:14-21

I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace, I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.

My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,

“Those who have never been told about him will see,

    and those who have never heard of him will understand.”

Reader: “This is the word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:
The Jewish view of time growing out of God’s conception of time as it exists on earth, was markedly different from all other cultures. Time has a purpose, a coherent plan and meaning. Whereas other peoples’ thought of time in a repeating cycle, in other words, time goes in a circle and repeats itself. Reincarnation would be a primary example. The Jewish mind viewed time in a linear fashion. God has one great story with a beginning (Creation), a middle (the present), and an end (the establishment of the eternal heavenly Kingdom). This story is also described as: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Recreation. Therefore, the observation of Advent year after year is not simply a repetition of what happened the previous year. Think how different the world is this year from last year. How different are your own circumstances from last year? The ramifications of Advent are certainly different in my own life. I look at the whole season with a different set of eyes. I’m at a different place in life than last year. Each year goes deeper and deeper and I am confronted in new ways with our wondrous God. Linear repetition is good. Circular repetition is deadly. 

In Paul’s words above, he refers to “these things.”  Reading those words beckons us to go back to what he wrote up to this point. In the previous chapters we read he reminded the people to: help the brothers and sisters, live in unity, don’t cause others to stumble, respect authority, pay your taxes, love your neighbors and live moral lives. Like the season of Advent affords, we are a people who need to continually be reminded of the basics which is what Paul is doing. We live in a world that is fascinated by the new, the latest, but alas, has lost the basics of morality, civility and respect for others. There are a couple of other words Paul uses that would register with the Jews, words which have a subtlety we might miss. Though the translation is “special messenger,” the Greek word used could be translated “minister.” Jews often applied this word to “priests.” Paul functioned as a priest in his evangelistic efforts. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of yourself as a “priest,” but as you live your life, practice the basics, and practice the things Paul describes, and you will as a result function as a priest to those around you. You are helping to bridge heaven and earth as Christ lives through you this day. We are, afterall, the priesthood of believers. You may run into people today who have never heard the Good News. Tell it!

Music: “Go Tell It on the Mountain”  Home Free DO NOT miss this!!!!

Lord God, Father in heaven, Creator of all that is seen and unseen, out of your great love you have brought into being all that is. You have a grand plan to bring us to yourself for all eternity, when time ceases to exist and we enjoy you forever. Have mercy on us who struggle to remember and get the basic things right. We know you are coming back to set up your kingdom, yet we live as though this world is all there is. In the midst of people who have lost their way, may we, who have seen the Light, share that Light with those around us who are walking in darkness. As a kingdom of priests, let us help others, bring unity and civility, love others, and live in purity in a world that is desperate for meaning and purpose. These things we pray in the name of our one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live. Amen.
―Daniel Sharp