16 July 2014

Today's Chapel Homily


Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.


You know something about the sufferings of this present time. You know them rather intimately and you’d really rather not. Suffering, particularly the suffering of those we love, has a way of consuming all our vision. Like a massive vacuum it sucks our vitality and energy right down. 

Today the Holy Spirit through St. Paul gives us a different way of thinking about suffering. You see, he holds all the pain and sorrow of this life up against the glory that waits for us. And he finds that the sufferings are simply outweighed. 

What’s coming, what’s headed our way, this renewal of all creation, this setting free of the entire cosmos into the glorious liberty of God’s children, this shining world that Isaiah foretold where there was no fear because there was no death. Lions and bears playing with children and even the poisonous vipers tamed and freed and playing with the little ones! Sufferings banished in bodies resurrected and made incorruptible. Futility and corruption, the falling apart of that which God joined together – body and soul – now forever banished. It's so huge. So immense. IT vacuums up the sorrows!

And St. Paul says that creation itself, then, waits on tiptoe for this unveiling of the sons of God. The creation itself groans along with us because it knows that this world as it is, is NOT this world as it shall be. It’s groaning in pangs of childbirth, waiting, longing, aching for the glory that IS surely coming.

How could Paul be so certain? It doesn’t look like there’s a great renewal coming. It looks like death wins the day. Over and over again. But you have been given the Holy Spirit, the firstfruits. This is the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead. This is the Spirit of Him who has already in His Son begun the renewal of this entire creation. Already there is human flesh, descended from Adam, that has been raised in incorruption and seated in glory. Your Jesus is the promise and payment that YOU will be set free too. The Spirit witnesses this hope inside you. And when the sufferings are bad, and the strain is very heavy, the Spirit reminds you again and again that the new life that shone forth from the grave on Easter is not just something for your Lord Jesus, but a new life that He won for you and will give to you. It’s yours now in a hidden way through your baptism, but it will be yours opens openly and manifestly on the day of Christ’s appearing! 

Groan, then, but groan in hope. Throw against the sorrow and dread, the song of the promise of what will be. The glory that outweighs every suffering. And so pray with the Spirit and the whole Church: Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Hymn 342: "What Hope! An Eden Prophesied"


Rev. James Leistico said...

Luther had some interesting comments on this text in my book of devotions I showed you years back. Since then I found that many of them come from the postils. Anyway, he said something along the lines of that if the sun could talk, it would complain about the futility of having to provide light to the ungodly.

Carla said...

Thanks! :)