Hope for All Saturday, December 18, 2021
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, and training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
At the time Paul wrote this letter to his gentile friend Titus, it was believed that Christ’s return would happen soon. Paul is advising Titus to live as Jesus had taught so he would be ready for Jesus’ return. But the second coming of Jesus did not happen in their lifetimes as they expected.
There are people today who believe that Christ’s return is imminent. They are disillusioned by the world today – war, famine, Covid-19, climate change, hate, violence and inhumanity.
I am reminded of the Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” which is based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It says, “And in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth, I said, for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.”
But Paul expressed hope: “…the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God….” Could it be that we are the ones who can facilitate the manifestation of the glory of God? Could we be the people who are zealous for good deeds?
In Longfellow’s poem, as the bells peal more loudly, he concludes, “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.” The spirit of God within us can help to bring peace on earth. We can work to seek justice, fight prejudice, and feed the hungry. We can be accepting of those who are different from us and whose beliefs differ from our own.
Paul’s message of hope to Titus, a gentile, was for ALL people and faiths. It’s still relevant for us today.
Lord God, in this season of longing and hope, help us to love our neighbor and to understand our role in bringing peace and justice to our world. Amen.
St. John’s Lutheran Church
This devotional is a joint project between Christmas Lutheran (Bethlehem) and St. John’s (Salisbury, NC).