Advent Devotion, 12/9/22
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews[a] on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.” 10 Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As the Apostle Paul starts to wrap up his letter to the church in Rome he wants to make one thing abundantly clear: Christ lived, died and rose again for the whole world. In this passage Paul points back to four different instances in the ancient text that proclaim that the gospel message of hope is not exclusively for the Jews.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
The term Gentile doesn’t really describe who someone is, but rather who they are not – a Jew. Paul had to spend a lot of time and energy debating, persuading, and even fighting against the churches exclusionary behavior. It seemed that early Christ followers had the tendency to draw lines and make it adamantly clear that some people, actually most people, were not welcome in the church.
As we walk through this season of Advent together let us be a church that proclaims that the hope of the gospel is for all people. For the Root of Jesse, who is Jesus, has come and will come again making all things new.
During the season of Advent the church has historically encouraged Christians to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving (caring for the poor.) Though you may not practice these things this Advent, what practice can you take on, or leave behind, to open your heart to those not like you?
Guide me, if I’m willing,
(drive me if I’m not),
into the hard ways of sacrifice
which are just and loving.
Make me wide-eyed for beauty,
and for my neighbor’s need and goodness;
wide-willed for peace-making
and for the confronting power
with the call to compassion;
wide-hearted for love
and for the unloved,
who are the hardest to touch
and need it the most.
(Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace)
ADVENT PLAYLIST SONG
“Oh Righteous Branch,” Caroline Cobb, “A Seed, A Sunrise: Advent to Christmas Songs”