4 Dec 2021
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13
The Epistle. Romans xv. 4.
Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
The Gospel. St. Luke xxi. 25.
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
When we read the Epistle, we look behind and see what has been done; when we read the Gospel we look ahead and wait for what is yet to come.
Whatsoever things were written aforetime, says St. Paul, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Paul is directing us to look at what is said about Christ in the Old Testament. When we see how many signs were fulfilled in Jesus’ life, (just consider all those laid out in St. Matthew’s Gospel!) we can rest in greater hope on what will come in our future. What Jesus did proves God’s truthfulness. There is no great gap separating the Old and New Testaments as some would have us believe today. Everything Jesus said and did is a part of God’s revealing Himself to us from the beginning of time. Jesus’ redeeming us by His death on the Cross and Resurrection are at the essence of this. God’s revealing Himself to us started in the Garden, then with Noah, then again with Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets. God’s plan was one of faithfulness and mercy to bring the promise of everlasting life to all the nations. Ultimately, there was to be no barrier between Jew and Gentile.
St. Paul says, Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find peace in our hearts through patience, and this brings us to be at peace with each other. In love, we are able to gather together and give God praise and worship with one voice as we do today in the Anglican Church Worldwide though we are separated by great distances. Now, we seek brotherly kindness among all of God’s children regardless of background.
Jesus fulfilled all the promises made to Abraham and to his descendents so that "the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.”
This was the great mystery that God had hidden for so long. Just imagine--the Holy Scriptures would have remained a mystery to this day if Jesus Christ hadn’t come into the world! What could it all mean? But Jesus did come. He is “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, [and] has been prevailed [upon] to open the Book, and to loose the seals thereof.” (Rev 5:5) Jesus reveals in the Gospel lesson for today something of the wonders of times to come. But at His first coming, the plan for us was laid out in earnest. After Jesus came and accomplished everything in the plan for Him, the Holy Spirit could speak aloud to St. Paul, and fill his life as He does ours. Paul sums up, Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. How can we ever despair and lose hope? Our hope is that “blessed hope” of seeing Christ return soon--today--and of being accepted by Him in His love and tender compassion for all mankind.
We are not stuck in the gloom that those who lack the Gospel must often feel. If we could only see what man can do for man, we could easily fall into despair, but we don’t have to see things limited by human understanding and actions. We as Christians know that, regardless of what happens, we have the Lord’s protection. The greater our faith, the more we are assured of joy and peace and hope. And that hope grows the more as God is at work within us this holy Advent season.
Bishop Edwin Tompkins