Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
With The Very Revd Canon Mary Hauck
Romans 8:26-39 (The Message)
26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
31-39 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
Afterthoughts by Fr. Brad Helmuth
The Long View
Many thanks to Canon Mary for leading us this past Sunday and bringing to us a good word; one that has challenged us to think about our lives and the Spirit’s place in it.
I would like to share some thoughts about what was shared Sunday as well as some further thoughts about the Romans passage.
Romans fits our current cultural and physical condition right now. We are in the midst of two things right now that are having a great impact on our lives.
First, and most obvious, is COVID.
Much can be said about this virus and its ramifications on our health. It causes many to worry about their lives, what they will do and how things will turn out. It is new and, therefore, unknown in its complexities.
It is a threat to us physically through the stress it creates.
Second, and much more impactful in my opinion, is the societal discord that is raging currently in this country. Politics is off the rails, and both the left and right are to blame. Yesterday, in hearings meant to ask questions, most lawmakers simply used their time to pedal their personal and party agendas. They demonstrated rude and distasteful behavior, void of any hint of leadership, giving the American people the worst possible example of how to be in relationship with others when you disagree with someone. All of this leaching out into protests, riots and even simple conversations between people around town about wearing a mask.
And this heading into an election in the Fall for the presidency.
Can someone tell me when we will be free of this attitude and culture?
My guess is never, really.
Which is not good news.
Only IF we put all of our stock in this world
and those who are the leaders in this world.
And so we wait.
I was reminded of how limited my perspective is on waiting during Morning Prayer today.
The reading from the book of Judges says this:
The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord strengthened King Eglon of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the Lord. In alliance with the Ammonites and the Amalekites, he went and defeated Israel; and they took possession of the city of palms. So the Israelites served King Eglon of Moab eighteen years. Judges 3:12-14
If you’re like me, then you have been thinking about when things might settle down with COVID.
When do I get to look out on faces without masks?
When can I take from the chalice and feel complete as I receive communion?
When can I shake hands and embrace others?
Will it be 4 months?
Will it be a year?
Is anyone else exhausted thinking about this?
So, what I was reminded of during Morning Prayer is that we are not good at waiting.
Or, better, we have no real context for understanding waiting.
In the above passage, the Israelites find themselves on the wrong end of God’s law.
So they are punished.
And the pronouncement of the punishment seems to be said in passing:
“So the Israelites served King Eglon of Moab eighteen years.”
Are you kidding me?
My youngest turned 18 this year.
And it seems as if his birth was from a lifetime ago.
And the Israelites had to wait 18 years to get relief from their captors.
I am exhausted thinking about months during COVID.
Again, I am not sure that I have enough currency to complain.
In the Reading from Romans this week, Paul reminds us of the long view.
To look at the long view is key for us as followers of Jesus.
What do I mean by the long view?
The long view is looking to the future to navigate the present.
It is a view that places all things in perspective and gives to us context in this daily journey of faith.
I appreciated Cn Mary’s use of The Message and its translation of the text from Romans.
Let me share it here.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
God’s Spirit is with us in the waiting.
He is actually making it possible for us to wait.And, so, we are reminded in the waiting to love God, knowing that he will work our love into something good.
That’s how we could attempt to navigate an “18 year wait.”
And continuing on to the conclusion of chapter 8 in Romans…
None of this [strife] fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
We can wait.
Because in the waiting, God’s love never leaves us.
We cannot be separated from Him.
So what do we do?
- Wait on God by loving Him.
- Live out the hope and truth that God is at work during the waiting.
- Pray for others in a hopeful way.
- Understand our own difficulties in waiting and allow others the grace to be frustrated during their waiting by coming alongside of them to be an encouragement.