December 1

Romans 15:4-6

“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.” vs. 4

Paul was waiting for Christmas, or to put it in another way, he was waiting for the return of Christ, but he wasn’t letting any grass grow under his feet as he waited. He had been given a mission and, without training and without precedent, he daily engaged in proclaiming the gospel and establishing congregations. But he wasn’t just making stuff up! Every day he looked for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, sometimes directly, and regularly through the scriptures. But Paul was interpreting those writings in a new way. For him they weren’t a rulebook for Jews but an open-ended invitation to the whole world to participate in salvation. No one was to be excluded; all were to be welcomed. We are the inheritors of that mission and we face the same challenges as did Paul. It isn’t that we necessarily need more congregations. There are already more than enough of those. But we do need to be attentive to the urgings of the Spirit, and we certainly need to allow the scriptures to speak in a new way to our changing world. And like Paul, instead of using those books in a wooden and literal way, we will use them as a guide in exploring new territory and new forms. We’re all waiting for completion, but it’s a journey too, a journey of renewal and of hope.

Thought for the Day: What is the Spirit saying to me as Advent begins?

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