Dear Savannah - Sermon Writing
Dear Savannah, What a wonderful journey you've given me. I hopped on an airplane, traveling solo, and landed into your warm hospitality. Thank you for being my 'soul retreat.' Your sunlit benches and stretching, moss draped trees provided the perfect embrace for writing my sermon.
Until next time,
(Part One of my 'Hope' sermon)
In Savannah there were some really intense moments where being with God one-on-one got me pumped and recharged for doing His work. It was a great time of rest and rejuvenation.
It was a good place to just sit and dwell in God’s goodness. Today's scripture feels like this. A place of mental rest. A place where we can slow our mental wheels down and let ourselves be saturated with God’s goodness.
Let's read today’s scripture together. Roman’s 5:1-11:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Amen! It ministers to the deepest part of my heart.
There are a lot of great things in this passage. Let's talk about hope first.
When I think of hope in our culture, I imagine when I’ve seen movies where a team is one point away from the winning goal, or where a couple in love is looking bright eyed at the perfect future. Or I think about how it’s used, almost sarcastically. For example, I might ask someone if they think it will be sunny tomorrow and they reply, ‘I hope so.’
I think we’re going in the right direction when we try to grasp and understand hope, but what I think we’re missing is exactly what the core of this passage is seeking to capture.
You see, hope is two things: It’s a gift and it’s a discipline.
I think of it like this: Every October, like now, we soak up the last bits of warmth because we know that what is coming? Winter. Winter comes again and again. The past few years have been especially brutal. We, of course, long for and look forward to spring and to summer. To gardening and swimming and running.
We get to long for the promise of these things because we’ve achieved hope.
Follow my example, here. If we had never experienced the Spring that comes, we wouldn’t know to be hopeful in winter.
We have learned how to sustain ourselves through the hard because we’ve been witness to the gift of the good. We have hope at the onset.
We expect hope to be the thing that gives us relief at the end, when hope is the thing that we own because God’s already gotten us through before! God has sent hope.
Example one verse 6: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. It’s been done! – We had nothing to be hopeful about in our sin, but Christ has paid with the price of His life for us to have eternal hope of eternal things to come!
But also example two: If you have hope to endure through something, it means God has shown up in your life to prove that His strength has won for you before. When you’re in a hopeless place and feel hopeful or encouraged or able, that is an answered prayer. Even if brief, He’s showing up.
Hear Me: Hope isn’t the deliverance of happy outcomes. Rather, it’s the promise that God will be big enough for whatever the outcome is.