This is the third week of our series with a message from the words of Jesus, “Give them some food yourselves.” We are looking at the post resurrection time in the life of the church where, Jesus returns to the Father, sends the Holy Spirit for the Apostles, and we see the beginning of the community of believers forming to bring the mission of Jesus to the “ends of the world.” In this message series we will look at the gifts that God has provided and focus on the use of these gifts to bring about a better community.
We will discover that we are enlightened with the gift of the Spirit. We receive the gift of the Spirit for some benefit and we will look at the message of hope that God wants for us and all his children. Finally we tie it together in the fourth week with Jesus message that we are meant to help one another, what we receive we should be ready to share. So while these post-resurrection stories are informative and show the beginning of the community, there is also a deep pattern of receiving from God and acting upon what we have received to share with others. If we just listen to the stories and are not moved to do something than we are not very good Christians.
Two weeks ago we looked at the story of Jesus being lifted up to heaven and the Holy Spirit provided to those who were Jesus’ disciples. It was an Ascension message which pointed out that Jesus had to go so we could receive the Spirit. The Spirit is God in us who will give us many gifts to help us bring about the community of believers. The gift we focused on was enlightenment.
Last week the readings focused on the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. We read the stories of the Spirit coming to the disciples as tongues of fire and breath from Jesus. The Spirit is breath, the breath of the church that brings life to the body of Christ. The disciples are sent by Jesus to proclaim the message of the gospel as Jesus was sent by the Father. Through the gifts of the Spirit to benefit the work of the Spirit the message is spread and the body of Christ comes to life. The Spirit gives for the benefit of the work and directs the success of the message of God.
Our readings this week look at the communion of God in love. We see a message of a Father who loves so much he sends his Son to restore humanity’s relationship with God. And a Son who loves so much he reveals truth and then sends the Spirit of Truth so we will have hope and strength in knowing the message of God. We read about God who delights in humanity, and a Spirit that works to bring us closer toward the eternal communion of one God with three persons. All of this is hope of the glory as Paul tells us. We have confidence by receiving the Spirit and accepting grace we too will share in the glory of Christ.
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for Holy Trinity Sunday; Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalms 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15. The readings guide us toward hope of glory, seeing a communion of love in God, we know that God wants the same for us.
This first reading from the book of Proverbs is Wisdom speaking for all to hear, her message is meant for everyone. Wisdom is present with God at creation and what delights her most is her relationship with humanity. Here she is depicted as having the features of a person, it helps us grasp the mystery of the Trinity. There is imagery in this reading that is similar to that used to describe the relationship between God and the Word in the prologue of the Gospel of John. The status held by Wisdom in this reading is attributed to Christ in the New Testament. In the Letter to the Colossian he is described as “the first born of all creation” (Colossians 1:15) and in the book of Revelation as “the beginning of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14) Therefore, we recognize that Jesus was present with God at the beginning of creation although in a feminine form as we have always seen Wisdom as Sophia, the female. The reading speaks to God in multiple persons and hence introduces the idea of the trinity, which the church is giving recognition of on this solemnity. For our purposes we want to focus on the main point of the speech and that is Wisdom’s delight in the human race. It is the beginning of our hope that Jesus would eventually enter into humanity and provide the means for us to be hopeful about life eternal. Jesus is given many names through the scriptures; Christ, Lord, Logos, Son of God, Son of man, Lamb of God but a title that should always come to mind when we think of Jesus is hope.It is the beginning of our hope that Jesus would eventually enter into humanity and provide the means for us to be hopeful about life eternal. Click To Tweet
In the second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Romans he mentions two persons of the trinity. We have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ and because of the love God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It is a view of the relationship in the trinity and how each works toward providing grace to humanity. Paul works through a fourfold journey to hope, describing afflictions as the beginning of endurance, endurance producing proven character and proven character producing hope. Paul says hope does not disappoint. Paul wants to boast in the hope of the glory of God. It is a promise that we will have hope and be glorified as Christ was glorified, although we don’t know what this means fully. Paul sees it as being united with Christ again and sharing in the glory he received when he fulfilled the will of his Father. His glory is such that at the mention of his name every knee will bend on heaven and earth. So for Paul to receive affliction in the name of Jesus is the beginning of the journey to glory and he has great hope there is nothing better. Hope is expecting with confidence that God will fulfill his promise and we will cherish the gift we receive.Paul wants to boast in the hope of the glory of God. It is a promise that we will have hope and be glorified as Christ was glorified, although we don’t know what this means fully. Click To Tweet For Paul to receive affliction in the name of Jesus is the beginning of the journey to glory and he has great hope there is nothing better. Click To Tweet
In the gospel reading from John Jesus develops the teaching of the Holy Spirit. He calls him the Spirit of Truth because he will help the disciples understand the truth of Jesus revelation of the Father and himself. The Spirit does not speak on his own, which tells us of the deep communion between the Father, Son and Spirit. Theirs is a relationship of love and sharing that is deeply connecting into the one God. The Spirit will take from Jesus and help to penetrate it into the hearts of the disciples and followers of Jesus. Everything the Father has is Jesus’ and the Spirit provides it to all of us. Through the Spirit we come to know the Father’s love, revealed in Jesus and thus come to call him Father. Jesus is telling us of this eternal exchange of love between the Father, Son and Spirit and that our hope is we are destined to share in this same eternal exchange of love. The Father sent the Son to restore our relationship with him and the Spirit is sent to strengthen us and provide in our life this love that exists in God. This is our hope, that we can be restored to intimate love with God and share in this communion of love between Father, Son and Spirit.Jesus is telling us of this eternal exchange of love between the Father, Son and Spirit and that our hope is we are destined to share in this same eternal exchange of love. Click To Tweet
The readings this week emphasize God in multiple persons who share in a communion of love as they delight in humanity. God has done all the work so that we may have hope in joining the communion of love shared by the three in one God. Our grasping of this hope brings confidence that we desire to join this communion of God. We must avoid sinfulness and open ourselves up to the Spirit who wants us to accept his strength and grace in our lives. For us it is very simple, seek hope and be ready to receive.God has done all the work so that we may have hope in joining the communion of love shared by the three in one God. Click To Tweet
We continue the message of the Spirit coming to us to enlighten our hearts, giving us gifts for some benefit and ensuring we have hope. It is with these gifts and hope that we must turn our focus to helping others, to providing this message of love to those who don’t know this trinity. We must become, as Jesus was, someone who washes feet, someone who gives food to the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, shelter the homeless, visit those in prison, comfort the sick and more. The Spirit is our strength in these endeavors, but it is through the hope of glory that we are excited to start.
Hope of the glory
We have this hope of glory introduced by Paul. For Paul this hope is in the resurrection of the dead. We can have many things in our lives that bring us hope, a wonderful marriage, beautiful children, a good job and lifestyle that give comfort and fun, we can even find hope in a delicious meal. But if we live a life that last seventy or eighty years and ends, any hope we have is short lived.
We read in the psalms, “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty, if we are strong; Most of them are toil and sorrow; they pass quickly, and we are gone.” (90:10) This is written when there was no hope clearly, just reading it we can sense the lack of hope.
Paul flips the message whenever he can, we read in Acts, “I have the same hope in God as they [the Way] themselves have that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous.” (24:15) For Paul it is resurrection that is hope. It is eternal life, connected and in communion with God.
In another speech given at a trial Paul says, “But now I am standing trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors.” (Acts 26:6) The promise of God is life eternal and Paul sees all hope in this promise.
But for Paul hope was not strictly speaking only in resurrection. Paul speaks about hope often and we see he really places his hope in the living God, “we have set our hope on the living God, who is the savior of all, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10) Paul ties belief to hope, without belief we may not be hopeful at all.
Paul also declares without Christ, and without the promise of covenant there is not hope, “were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel* and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) He goes on to say we now have Christ thus hope is restored.
Hope of righteousness in the Old Covenant is certain because the object of hope is God. Jeremiah described God as the “Hope of Israel” (Jeremiah 17:13). The Psalms frequently promise blessings to those who put their hope in the Lord. (Psalms 31:24-25; 39:8, 71:5-6, 130:7) Faithful believers who obey the Lord can be assured of his help in the future, and this faith sustains them in the present. With God hope is certain because he if faith and always keeps his promises.Faithful believers who obey the Lord can be assured of his help in the future, and this faith sustains them in the present. Click To Tweet
Turning back to Paul hope is defined a number of ways. He relates hope to faith, a belief in the unseen promises of God. “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.” (Romans 8:24-25) Paul is encouraging the suffering Christians in Rome to enter into the scriptures to gain hope that leads to perseverance. Just as we read from the same letter in our second reading; affliction leads to endurance, which leads to proven character, which leads to hope in glory and hope never disappoints.As we read from the same letter in our second reading; affliction leads to endurance, which leads to proven character, which leads to hope in glory and hope never disappoints. Click To Tweet
Paul puts hope in the resurrection, he believes in the salvation of Christ, he believes Christ death and resurrection provides hope for all and we too who believe will be saved in Christ. Life eternal with the communion of the trinity will be guaranteed if we believe and follow the will of God.
Of course Paul puts hope in God. He believes God is the hope for Israel and for the entire world, all who believe. “But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.” (Colossians 1:26-27)
Hope is a powerful means to live with confidence. Without hope we can be carrying around sadness or even depression. As we mentioned we can have hope in certain things in life. But the point of hope on glory is that our hope can be bigger than our life. If we have Christ in us, if we allow the Spirit to dwell in us, we have hope in God. God gives hope for today and for the future. It is a hope that we will join in the communion of the trinity, we will attain perfect love and be in relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. This is the glory Christ attained and it is available to us who hope in the Lord, who have faith and believe, who work toward love and do what we can to bring others to this communion.Hope on glory is that our hope can be bigger than our life. If we have Christ in us, if we allow the Spirit to dwell in us, we have hope in God. God gives hope for today and for the future. Click To Tweet
Give them some food yourselves
We receive hope from our faith and belief, through the promises of God. God can work in us because we have opened ourselves to receiving grace. For those who don’t know God, it is not possible for God to force grace upon them. It is why we must use the gifts we have received and reach out to those who are lost. Our duty as believers is to share the message of hope to those we can. We live in a time when people seem to be sadder, more angry, likely because they put their faith in the wrong things. We read Jesus telling us to give them some food ourselves, it is how we reach the lost and show them the way home to hope.For those who don’t know God, it is not possible for God to force grace upon them. It is why we must use the gifts we have received and reach out to those who are lost. Click To Tweet
We must introduce real hope to others. Jesus message is for us to serve one another. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the ill and visit the prisoner. We are to bring the body of Christ to the people of God. We don’t do this with sacraments and prayers unless we include washing feet. Jesus was a foot washer. He expects that same from us. If we are not actively, dedicatedly, committedly reaching out to serve we missed the gifts we are being given and we choke off real hope for those who don’t know the God of hope. There is no Christian that exists in the dark, the only way to be Christian is to let our light shine so others may see our good deeds.