Throughout this Advent season, my goal is to take each of the four Lectionary readings for each week and write a meditation about each one. Largely my motivation for this is simply that I love the season of Advent, yet there’s also a little bit of hoping that by blogging through this season, I can use it as a means to grieve the recent passing of my Dad.
Week 4: A reading from Paul’s epistle to the Romans.
Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.
–Romans 16:25-27 (NLT)
Our focus shifts with today’s Lectionary reading. It is almost as if we exchange our “someday the Messiah will come” for “the coming is imminent–any moment now”. As we have progressed through the previous 13 readings, we’ve explored the story from various perspectives. And, now, Paul offers a sort of benediction on our study. Yes, we have one reading remaining, and I would caution us to not treat that reading as a post script. Rather, tomorrow’s reading is the beginning of a new season.
So, Paul offers us a place to shift our focus. A place to pause and remember where we began and the path we have traveled. Further, he offers us a glimpse at that which is to be.
The plan has been revealed, he says. That plan, authored–yet, kept secret–before time itself, was that all of humankind would have the knoweldge of God’s mercy, grace and love.
Paul brings our focus–as he often does–to the mystery of the gospel. That beautiful mystery. A Jewish covenantal promise extended to all by the mercy, grace and love of Father God.
Remember with me the story of Abraham. The Messenger of YHWH comes to him and makes him a promise–your offspring will be as the stars in the sky. So many you won’t remember them. And to prove it’s a covenant promise, the Messenger walks between the body of animals split in two.
Many years later, we find Jesus. Not as a baby, rather as a man hanging on a tree. Broken. As a fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham.
The covenant then gets expanded. Since God’s covenantal people rejected the completion of the covenant, God extended the covenant to all of mankind. The mystery of the gospel is revealed by this extension of the covenant.
God’s mercy at work.
Love exhibited to all without regard.
So, as we allow Paul to extend our benediction, and we look forward with longing to that imminent event, let us not reject the covenant. Rather, let us embrace the mystery of the gospel. Let us with the shepherds bow in adoration.
The covenant of love has been made. Now, we await its imminent fulfillment–fulfillment that begins with the most humble of beginnings.
Let us, with the weary travelers, seek out a place for the covenant to be fulfilled in us.