Forest Lake Talks

The Fourth Sunday of Advent – The Purple of Divine Power

December 22, 2019

Romans 1:1-7

Paul connects all the dots in these first seven verses of Romans. He defines himself, his identity and his purpose in relation to God: a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle. Paul knows who and whose he is, as well as his ultimate “why.” He has been set apart to bear witness to the grace of God made known through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then he details the “what” of the gospel. Paul knows the message he is to proclaim and it is not his own. As he says often, he preaches Christ and him crucified. This gospel of God transforms and shapes, creates and reveals. As Karl Barth notes in his commentary on Romans, “It demands participation, comprehension, co-operation; for it is a communication which presumes faith in  the living God, and which creates that which it presumes.” This message is all consuming and stunningly impacting. As it convicted and converted Paul, is still does today.

This gospel of God resounds from the beginning and becomes incarnate in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit testifies to this Word and the resurrection of Jesus Christ beckons us to belief, faithfulness and obedience. The gospel of God is good news of great joy for all people, all nations. There is no end to its scope. No one, nothing is outside of the purview of God’s power and God’s concern and God’s love. We all belong to God. God still speaks, to us and through us. The gospel of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, does not return to God empty. Do you feel its power this Advent?

God of good news, infant Savior, still-speaking Spirit, come over us again with your living, light-filled Word that humbles our certainty, quiets our opinions, chastens our self-righteousness and makes of us servants of Jesus Christ, apostles who bear witness to your love. As the birth of Jesus draws close, we yield to your power, made flesh, full of grace and truth, the glory of the one and only Son who comes to save. Amen.

by Jill Duffield, Presbyterian Outlook editor

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