Going Deeper 12-5-19

The second reading for Advent 2…

Romans 15:4-13  4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name"; 10 and again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; 11 and again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; 12 and again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope." 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


The first verse of our text lays out the core value of the scriptures.  As we learn of God’s working throughout history in the Bible, we are provided with instruction for how we are to live now, which leads to hope for the future. 


As Paul moves toward wrapping up this critically important letter, one in which he has carefully sought to clarify the core doctrines and teachings of the Christian faith, he focuses on two important themes: harmony and hope… and the two are tied together.  When God’s people overcome things that threaten to divide them, and instead live in harmonious relationship, their solidarity provides a foundation for hope as they move together into the future.  It is much easier to take on future challenges together than apart.


However, living in harmony is not only exceedingly important, it is also extremely challenging.  This is true for the world—and nation—in which we live, and the divisions which fracture relationships outside of the Church are too often brought inside, causing division within.  Also, the vast range of how God’s children understand and apply the teachings of the Bible have also proven to be divisive.  We clearly need God’s help to stand together.. and we need to work very hard at it!


This was very challenging in the early church, where Jews and Gentiles were called to dwell together as one family.  That was probably as challenging as having Republicans and Democrats come together harmoniously in the churches of our country at this time!  Again, we clearly need God’s help to do so... and we need to work very hard at it!


Let’s pray for that help right now, using the final verse of our hymn of the day last Sunday, “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”:

O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.


And let us commit ourselves to living in harmony right now, remembering that uniformity has never been a requirement for unity.


One with You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."