Sermon 8 December 2019

John was a unique person in his time. His life choices raised the peoples’ interest and his words resonated with them. His presence is not an accident though, he is a fulfilment of prophesy.

Those who struggled found hope in him and were willing to do what he suggested. He offered hope to the people and calling them to repent. He even offers it to the Pharisees and Sadducees. He wants the authorities to know that their birthright is not enough. In fact God can raise up descendants for Abraham from the ground. He tells them that God is about to change the whole idea of God’s people. The present is understood in the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Paul is also trying to give people hope. We see this new people, though they are still living under the cultural view of being outsiders (Gentiles), the Romans. Paul talks to them in their hardship, not part of their Roman culture and not accepted into the Jewish culture.

Paul shares that the Hebrew Scriptures are there to show them the suffering of God’s people throughout history and it is there to give them encouragement to endure their hardship.

Importantly, Paul believes that this knowledge of God’s provision to assist them, is to be shared and bring them to one mind and in this oneness they can glorify God.

Paul shows how Jesus’ relationship to the Jews was to justify the history of the patriarchs and in turn this revelation of God’s working would be given to the Gentiles. Again he uses scripture to prove his beliefs, and not just one, but many verses. Paul’s prayer is that this knowledge will fill them with joy and peace.

We prepare for Christmas as one, not many. We have our private journeys to Christmas, but we need to find our oneness with God and each other, so that as one at Christmas, we may glorify God.

The journey is not what we will get at Christmas, but what we will give. Many of us will try to do it through our gifts and our presence at the many gatherings, but the message is not the traditional acts of Christmas. It is the hope we give in our lives and offer to others who have none. It is the peace we have through this time and at Christmas to those who do not have peace.

We find this hope and peace not in the now, but in the journey of those who have travelled the same path and done it with God and without God. This world cannot give us the peace we need it is something we need to understand in God.