HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


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So loved …

love“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  [John 3:16-17]

Love is difficult. It is painful. Love often hurts the one who loves … but you wouldn’t want it any other way. Because that is part of what makes love so beautiful. It is the power behind those well-loved words of St. John “For God so loved the world …”

Yes, God the Father loves this world enough to give to the ungrateful, to supply the unthankful, and to bless those who will in turn horde and abuse, and complain that He hasn’t given enough.

God the Son loves this world enough to have lived and died for others – even those who mock and spit and hurl insults as His blood flows for them. He loved enough to be lifted up in public shame so no one else would have to.

God the Holy Spirit loves this world enough to limit himself to working through the Word and Sacraments for our surety, teaching and life of prayer. He loves enough to promise He will work through them, even when people would rather hear some other word (any other word), or ignore the plain words of their loving God.

God’s Love does not come easy. Indeed it comes at great cost to Him. But it comes precisely for that reason. God doesn’t do what He does to condemn the world. It stands condemned in its sin already. God does what He does to save the world through His Love. No matter what it costs.

And that is the kind of Love we Christians need to share. The love God shared first with us. In this world so quickly unraveling at the seams, and into lives being torn apart by the sin sweeping over them and our culture, we need to love as no one does anymore.

Our love must be ready to bear the cost of helping those in need, even those who do not appreciate the gift or thank the giver. Our love needs to be ready to stand firm and suffer for the right thing. To be made public a spectacle and the mockery of those who would sacrifice others to get their way. Our love must be willing to submit itself to the ways and means that God has provided, the truths that He has spoken. Content always and ever to teach, and pray, and hope in Christ.

Such a love is difficult. It is painful. It will cost those who love, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, for it is His way. And it is the kind of Love that will save this condemned world!

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Colour My World

autumn_leavesThe gloriously colourful leaves are falling, the harvest has come in, and the church has begun her countdown to the last days of the Church year. The end is near, and it all has me thinking. It has me thinking about how riotously (and sadly) colourful it all is.

Let me explain.  For many years, while I lived out west, autumn seemed to be a three day process. The leaves turned yellow one day, they fell off the trees the next, and everything was covered with the first snowfall on the third. There was very little “season” to the whole process … more like a shotgun start of winter at the end of every summer. How very unlike where I live now! The autumn days are colourful and vibrant, the air is pleasant, and while rain may dampen things once in a while, the threat of snow still seems a long way off. Here, the world is simply enjoying itself too much to go rushing off into winter!

But alas, it all must end. Indeed, by the time you are taking your evening walks or afternoon drives to thrill at all the lustrous hues of autumn, the objects of your attention are already dead! For leaves only begin to show off all their stunning colours, once the stuff of  life – the chlorophyll – has gone. By the time they get vibrant and exciting to look at, they are dead and useless to the tree. Their fate is sealed, and it is only a matter of time before you will be raking them up and carting them off for burning or compost.

How very much like the end of this world of ours. Many people think that things are getting better all the time. But God’s Word tells us that so much of the seeming vibrancy, colour and excitement we see building around us is really the shading of death bursting to the fore. The world continues to rush headlong into the shallow pursuit of feeling good and having fun, and receiving all that I can claim as my right.  The world loves to shine forth the beacons of tolerance (at any cost), inclusiveness (of any ideology), and absolute relativism, and then sits back and revels in the riotous orgy of colour and expression it has created …

… but all the while fails to see that all the good and useful virtues like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control have slowly been seeping out of our society as Christ and the Holy Spirit are removed from people’s lives.

And when that Holy Spirit is removed, what’s left may look spectacularly pleasing to our eyes … but it is dead. A dried up husk that leads nowhere and can produce nothing worthwhile. It may be riotously colourful, but it is only a matter of time before it is all raked up and thrown into the fire as the useless stuff it is. Indeed the more colourful it gets the closer the end has come.

But sin is not the only thing to colour our world.  For there was a different three day process that led through death to life … when our Lord a Saviour died on a cross, was brought down and buried in a tomb to , but then rose again to new life! Over the course of three short days all our sin in all its riotous colour was paid for, death was defeated, and our lives  were covered in a blanket of  righteousness – Christ’s righteousness – painting even the darkest of sins as white as snow.

So I for one won’t be complaining (too much) when the raking is done and the shoveling begins. Not only is white a colour, but it is a truly glorious one that sparkles with all the promises of a blessed end and a fresh start in Christ.