Scripture Reading for June 26, 2011

 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now;  and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.  For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.  And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

______________________________________

In this passage, Paul writes that the world is “groaning in labor pains” as it moves toward the fulfillment that God intends.   These are words of radical hope, a deep assurance that, though we may not be able to see it, the creation is unfolding as it should.   Later in the passage, he says that “All things work together for good for those who love God . . .”   This is a hard promise to trust, particularly in times when things do not seem to be moving in a “good” direction.   One is reminded of the line often attributed to Martin Luther King, taken originally from a sermon by Theodore Parker:  “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Questions:

How do you maintain your sense of hope when things are not going well?

This Sunday is Pride Sunday in Minneapolis.  What could this text mean for LGBT people?

Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian
Senior Minister

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4 Responses to Scripture Reading for June 26, 2011

  1. Hazel Lutz says:

    Somehow, I get tired of being hopeless. The same hopeless feelings surrounding any issue I’m facing personally can be the most difficult to overcome. Hopeless about the way of the world is easier to overcome. In both cases, being hopeless doesn’t do any good, and doesn’t provide any attactive directions for what to do everyday when I get up. Additictive behaviors—eating junk food or playing computer gamse or doin gtoo much facebook, or starting up new projects when I haven’t finished the old ones– leaves me feeling sick enough that I start to ask myself, what can I do that will make be feel better. In the case of the world issues, living and working in hope for improvement is more exciting and energizing than giving up. The same, ultimately, is true for issues in my personal life.

  2. Ronaldpalosaari@hotmail.com says:

    It is easy to have a sense of hope when things are going well, so a sense of hope is more useful and helpful when things are difficult. Having said that I wonder if Paul is not carried away by his rhetoric in the “all things work together for good” sentence? Of course every sermon on this passage that I have heard stresses the “called according to His purposes”as an escape from the absolute, but I don’t find much meaning in that wording. Probably my fault.

    I have always liked the poetry of the passage even though my mind balks at the meaning. I am not enough of a Calvinist.

  3. Alan Anderson says:

    Finding Hope in tough Times

    Is my hope in technology? Growth? No. No.
    Having contemplated a bleak future for all my global neighbors far too long,
    a piercing beam of hope shot into my life.
    That hope came from the news in the N. Y. Times column of 6/14/11 by Thomas Friedman titled “Justice goes Global”.
    In a special issue of China Newsweek, on the cover was named the “most influential foreign figure” Friedman says he’s a rock star in Asia, and people in China, Japan and South Korea scalp tickets to hear him.
    It was Michael J. Sandel, the Harvard University political philosopher.
    15,000 Harvard students have taken Sandel’s legendary “Justice” class. What makes the class so compelling is the way Sandel uses real-life examples to illustrate the philosophies of the likes of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill.
    The series, now freely available online (at http://www.JusticeHarvard.org), has begun to stir interest in surprising new places.
    Last year, Japan’s NHK TV broadcast a translated version of the PBS series, which sparked a philosophy craze in Japan and prompted the University of Tokyo to create a course based on Sandel’s. In China, volunteer translators subtitled the lectures and uploaded them to Chinese Web sites, where they have attracted millions of viewers. Sandel’s recent book — “Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” — has sold more than a million copies in East Asia alone. This is a book about moral philosophy!
    But what is most intriguing is the reception that Sandel received in China.
    He just completed a book tour and lectures at Tsinghua and Fudan universities, This semester, Tsinghua started a course called “Critical Thinking and Moral Reasoning,” modeled on Sandel’s. His class visit was covered on the national evening news.
    Sandel’s popularity in Asia reflects the intersection of three trends. One is the growth of online education, where students anywhere now can gain access to the best professors from everywhere. Another is the craving in Asia for a more creative, discussion-based style of teaching in order to produce more creative, innovative students.

    Do read the whole article on line. I was able to access the first online presentation of the Justice course almost 2 years ago. While it includes almost 30 50 minute class sessions, you can choose as many as you like. Could Plymouth choose several of them for discussion groups?

    Paul says, “Now hope that is seen is not hope”. My life outlook differs from Paul’s.
    I need the visible glimmerings of hope that I see in the thirst for education and justice that the news from the Far East brings. I feel the need for action that could help realize my hope.
    For all of us ‘to do justice’ and ‘walk humbly’ is my hope.

  4. Marsha Hunter says:

    Thanks for this reminder that the universe bends towards justice, and that there are more important things than how we strive each day to make a living. The passage itself slows me down and makes me contemplate the larger purpose of creation.

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