WBB: Romans 8 (reprise)
I knew from the beginning that we would have to spend more than one week in Romans 8 during this year’s WBB meditation on Paul’s most famous letter. This passage was just too rich to rush through. Of course the same could be said of a lot the first seven chapters of the book as well, but there is something about Romans 8 that requires time for meditation, for reflection.
So we scheduled two weeks for Romans 8. And, well, that isn’t enough. So we are going to remain with Paul in this chapter for one more week.
We have seen that the apostle interprets the gospel of Jesus as a New Exodus. We have been called out of Egypt, out of empire, and are now being led by the Spirit. Our “Abba Father” cry has been heard, we have been set free, but we haven’t arrived home yet. We are in the wilderness.
And then Paul deepens the image of exodus and wilderness by likening our condition to being in the labour pains of birth. All of creation, we ourselves, and God herself are groaning in deep longing for new creation, the redemption of our bodies.
This is rich stuff for Advent. The Christian calendar begins with longing, with eager, expectant waiting for the coming of the One who sets us free, the Messiah whose salvation reaches “as far as curse is found.” And if we fail to wait, if we fail to be in tune with the longing of the very creation and the groaning of God herself in labour pains, then we will miss Advent, and indeed, be out of touch with our own deepest longings.
So we wait in hope. Even when hope and history won’t rhyme, we wait. Even when history takes such a long, long time, we wait.
But what could strip us of our hope? What could strip us of the longing that willl sustain us in the midst of our labour pains, our groaning? How about hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness or the sword? Could they strip us of our hope? Could they render Advent meaningless to us?
Maybe. Sadly enough, maybe.
But not if we have the ears to hear and the hearts to believe what St. Paul has to say to us at the end of this magnificent chapter.
I hope to see you in the morning at Wine Before Breakfast.
David Neelands will be presiding, I’ll be preaching (in fear and trembling), Amy Fisher has written a wonderful litany and the band has some U2 and Martyn Joseph up their sleeves.
In Advent hope,
PS WBB member and friend Dion Oxford has been writing some blogs for Advent over at The Gateway <http://thegateway.ca and we are also blogging on Advent at www.empireremixed.com