BCP Advent 2 : Romans 15:4-13
Ro:15:4: For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5: Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus :6: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7: Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8: 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: 9: 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. 10: And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11: And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12: 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. 13: 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.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent which always used to be Bible Sunday. However, the new Lectionary now celebrates Bible Sunday earlier in the year.
Ro:15:4: For whatsoever things were written aforetime
were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort
of the scriptures might have hope.
When Paul wrote this letter there was no New Testament, as such, so he is referring to the Old Testament, although his words equally apply to the new.The Bible is written for our learning. What can we learn from the Bible ? When I was at secondary school I remember R.E. lessons and being supposed to learn, parrot fashion, the Missionary Journeys of Paul. That is not what and how we are supposed to learn from the Bible. We are to read it to learn about God and human beings. When we read through the Bible we learn that God is loving and compassionate, showing undeserved favour to people. He is also holy and expects his people to respond to his love and grace in worship and humble obedience. Yet human beings, even ones whom God has chosen and have received His undeserved favour, rebel against Him, going their own selfish way.
The more we read the Bible the more we discover about
ourselves. We discover that human nature has changed little in the last
three thousand years or more. Yes, people would like to think that their
behaviour is more liberal and enlightened today than it was in the past.
But when you read some of Paul's letters written just under 2,000 years
ago, you discover the same sins, or even worse, being committed then
What is the aim of the Bible. Just to make us more knowledgeable ?
The N.I.V. translation of verse 4 makes this clearer, 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
From Parade magazine comes the story of self-made millionaire
Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in
East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders.
What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop
out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black
and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes,
he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school,"
he said, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of
At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.
Scripture was written for our instruction, so that as
we patiently endure we might be encouraged to hold fast our hope in
Christ. That hope is rooted in God coming to earth as a man, something
we prepare for in Advent and celebrate in a few weeks time. That hope
is founded in the death and resurrection of Jesus, something we remember
and celebrate at Easter and, indeed, every Sunday. That hope is grounded
in the ascension of Jesus to heaven and the expectation of his glorious
return, gathering up all believers to be united in heaven with God.
This, also, is something that we anticipate during Advent.
The teaching of Scripture is to bring hope to believers
who endure and it is practical, pointing us how we should live. Here,
Paul is saying that Christians are to be united. Not that everyone has
to believe exactly the same things. For, in Chapter 14, he had encouraged
believers who had different attitudes to meat eating to respect one
another. That unity is to be in accepting one another. The early church
was made up of Jews and Gentiles, and Paul says that, whilst Jesus came
first to the Jews, God intended that the good news should be received
by every race.
The motivation for unity is Christ's acceptance of believers.
7: Wherefore receive ye one another,
as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
The goal of unity is for Christians to worship together
and bring glory to God. 6: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify
God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul returns to the hope that is to inspire and sustain
every believer. 13: 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 word for hope is not to be equated with unfounded optimism in the way that it is in our language. On the contrary, it is the certain assurance of our future destiny. It is based on God's love, which is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit and objectively demonstrated to us in the death of Christ. The hope, joy and peace promised are three of the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit listed elsewhere ( Gal. 5:22 ). The natural consequences of having the God living inside us.
George Bernard Shaw was known as a free thinker and
liberal philosopher. In his last writings we read, "The science
to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have
established the millennium, led, instead, directly to the suicide of
Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the
faith of millions of worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds.
And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist
who has lost his faith."
We are to have a certain hope, rooted in the grace of God, revealed in the Bible, affecting our lives as we worship him and as we accept and love one another