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Second Sunday in Advent PDF Print E-mail

TEXT: ROMANS 15:4-13
THE GOD OF ALL HOPE GIVES ABOUNDING HOPE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To all those at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center, who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah says, “the root of Jesse will come even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Fellow-redeemed, Advent is a season of hope!  It is a new beginning that calls us to turn from this passing world to God’s gracious actions in Jesus Christ.  The voice of John the baptizer rings out – “repent” – pointing us to Christ!  Human confidence relies on controllable factors but hope is directed to Him who cannot be controlled.  The first Advent of Christ calls us to a general confidence in the God’s protection and help.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” 

And yet this time of year in our society is the time of the deepest feelings of hopelessness.  Those involved in law enforcement or counseling would easily describe the time from Thanksgiving to New Years as the time of greatest distress and deepest depression.  It seems that human hearts have deep expectations of the ideal - of good feelings and happy times.  In this season of good cheer, this season to be jolly, people easily feel that a magical happiness may be passing them by.  From children to young adults to seniors, expectations may be met bitter disappointment and specific hopes may be dashed to pieces.

It shouldn’t surprise you if the hustle and hype of the season sometimes leaves you feeling lower rather than higher.  It’s essential to remember that the hope that God gives you isn’t identical with your feelings.  In fact, feelings that don’t always reflect the outward glitter of the season can be God’s good gift.  God may use feelings of loss or disappointment to help us sort out the temporary hopes of this passing world from the hope that reaches into eternity.
 
Hope comes naturally to us!  If we could take just one hope from your heart and each heart here this morning and paint it on a canvas, what a rich mixture of color and content would be displayed.  There are hopes of an expectant mother for the child being knit together in her womb.  There are hopes of parents for growing children and maturing teens in this chaotic culture.  There are the hopes of children for recognition and approval.  There are hopes of college students for future work and future spouse.  There are hopes of the lonely or disappointed to find friendship and fulfillment.  There are hopes of those sick for strength and healing to be given.  There are hopes of the unemployed to find work.  There are hopes of those retired that their lives will be full of purpose.  There are hopes of those in pain and sorrow to find relief.

In addition to the hopes that come naturally, the world invests considerable time and energy in selling hope like a commodity.  Some years ago before the fall of the Iron Curtain a traveler spoke of the many signs in Communist lands advertising hope!  “Workers apply yourselves – things will soon be better.”  “Workers keep your hopes high – a new day is coming”.  The selling of hope in capitalism is also alive and well.  Politicians often peddle hope – philosophers too.  Entertainers, educators, and economists, often promise a better future if we just think right and act right.  Both openly and indirectly there are influences directing hope toward science or medicine or business or the government. We are urged to hope in the family of man for the advancement of man.  And while some of these hopes are helpful earthly pursuits, none of them are the hope St. Paul wrote about to the church at Rome.

May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hopeThis hope is not natural to the human heart!  It is supernatural hope given by the power of the Holy Spirit!  It is given by the Spirit through the Word of God.  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  It is also hope that comes through faith in Christ.  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing…This believing is in the root of Jesse – the Messiah who became a servant to the circumcised and to the Gentiles.

Dear Christians, this is the unique hope poured out from God to man.  It is hope based not on man’s potential but solely on God’s promises!  This hope that abounds readily admits the hopelessness of our current world situation because of sin.  Yet it is hope that openly trust God is working all things for our eternal good because of our Savior.

He is the one spoken of by the prophet Isaiah – “He will not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth (Isaiah 11).  That is a beautiful description of how Christ judges you, with His own righteousness.  The sin that He sees in you He wills not to see!   The rebellion He hears in you He wills not to hear!

And for that undeserved righteous judgment to be given to us sinners, Jesus had to undergo this same judgment in reverse.  Even though Pontius Pilate saw that He was innocent, he did not judge by what he saw with his eyes.  Even though Pilate heard nothing deserving of condemnation and admitted so, he did not judge by what he heard with his ears.  Rather, he showed partiality to the crowd’s cries of “crucify”.  His delight was not in the fear of the Lord but the fear of the crowd and fear for his own status.

There, on the cross, human injustice met with Divine justice in a fearful outpouring of God’s wrath.  The ax of God’s wrath fell against the perfect fruit-bearing tree and threw Him into the unquenchable fire.  Yet having borne its fire for us, He finished its hold on us.  Up from the dead stump of Jesse’s line a shoot sprang forth in new life – the risen Messiah – the living Christ!  Having baptized you into His death, he has baptized you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

AND NOW WE HAVE HOPE!  CHRIST GIVES YOU THIS ABOUNDING HOPE!   It is a gift of the spirit in these last days!  It doesn’t project its own view of the future!  It doesn’t trust itself even in its best moments!  You know the futility of basing hope in yourself with all your good intentions and determined resolutions mixed with all your anxieties and impure motives and weaknesses.  YET YOU HAVE HOPE – FROM THE GOD OF HOPE!  The world never quite keeps its promise!  God always does!  The risen Christ is in your midst even now bidding you to hope even in the face of death – no especially in the face of death!  Yes, it is unnatural!  Yes, it is an enemy!  No, you were not made for it!  But you know who has defeated it!

Therefore you are perfectly correct to press on – not knowing where the future leads – but knowing who is holding the future and leading you.  The Holy Spirit bids you to have sure confidence in God’s eternal day and patient endurance and hopeful trust in this day.  So, do press on.  And while you do so, May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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