What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:31-39
For today’s post, I’d like to jump back to Sunday morning. Walk Through Bethlehem was amazing, yes, but an epic event like this only works because it is produced by a congregation enthusiastic about loving God and following Jesus, powered by the Spirit.
So I was especially glad that we launched the official First Sunday of Advent by sharing communion. Coming to the table, taking the bread and the wine, placing all the coming (and often at a frenetic pace) parties, celebrations, gifts, observances and more in the context of humility, and community, and reverent worship.
Traditionally Advent focuses on Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy, and this is the week of “HOPE.” But Rebekah – maybe in response to more than thirty-five years of ministry – is presenting a series of messages around a different set of words.
Sunday the word for Wake Forest Presbyterian Church was “intersession” (click here for the live stream message – begins around the 26-minute mark). Rebekah preached on the Romans 8 passage I have quoted above.
Jesus does for us what we could not do for ourselves – that is intersession, and Rebekah shared some wonderful stories about times when people have done that for her… for us. On our own, we simply do not have the spiritual chops to restore a relationship with God. But that doesn’t matter! God’s amazing and complete love for us in Jesus has accomplished what we could not achieve on our own.
Some people explain the work of Jesus as standing between humankind and an angry God – as a kind of buffer, persuading God not to destroy us. But Jesus is God, there is no opposition or conflict within the Godhead! Jesus is God’s love manifest in human form. Jesus offers salvation because reconciliation is God’s will for me and for you.
We have already been forgiven! We have already been saved! Now all we need to do is to accept that love, to realize our status as God’s children, holy and beloved, and to live in the light.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. – Colossians 3:12
“Indeed,” Jesus pointed out in John’s rendition of the Good News, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” – John 3:17
This is the first week of Advent. Our HOPE is in Jesus. I’d like to invite you to accept his love and – maybe for the first time – fully understand what it means to be forgiven and free – DEREK