Week of Proper 25: Tuesday, Year 1   7 comments

Above:  Dawn Over Greece, 2010

Image Source = Kat Hannaford

Great Expectations

OCTOBER 31, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Romans 8:18-25 (Revised English Bible):

For I reckon that the sufferings we now endure bear no comparison with the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is in store for us.  The created universe is waiting us with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed.  It was made subject to frustration, not of its own choice, but by the will of him who subjected it, yet with the hope that the universe itself is to freed from the shackles of mortality and is to enter upon the glorious liberty of the children of God.  Up to the present, as we know, the whole created universe in all its parts groans as if in the pangs of childbirth.  What is more, we also, to whom the Spirit is given as the firstfruits of the harvest to come, are groaning inwardly while we look forward eagerly to our adoption, our liberation from mortality.  It was with this hope that we were saved.  Now to see something is no longer to hope:  why hope for what is already seen?  But if we hope for something we do not yet see, then we look forward to it eagerly and with patience.

Psalm 126 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,

then were we like those who dream.

2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter,

and our tongue with shouts of joy.

3 Then they said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

4 The LORD has done great things for us,

and we are glad indeed.

5 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the watercourses of the Negev.

6 Those who sowed with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

7 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,

will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Luke 13:18-21 (Revised English Bible):

What is the kingdom of God like?

he [Jesus] continued.

To what shall I compare it?  It is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew to be a tree and the birds came to roost among its branches.

Again he said,

To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?  It is like yeast which a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour till it was all leavened.


The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The reading from Romans 8 combines metaphysics with prose poetry quite nicely to speak of the remaking of the cosmic order by God.  This was an expectation that had dwelt within Judaism for centuries before Paul was even born.  Paul’s vision was an optimistic one in which God will win in the end, despite the mess which is the current reality.

Dare we hope for something better that which we see?  Or do we fear heartbreak?

Consider the mustard plant, which I have discussed in other posts, to which I have provided links.  It has humble origins in a tiny seed yet sprawls out and goes where it will.  The mustard plant is really a weed, if the truth be told.  So, according to Jesus, the kingdom of God is like a really big and unconquerable weed.  Many different types of creatures take up residence within that weed.  So this parable, as you, O reader, might see, also tells us that the kingdom of God is inherently diverse.  We do not need to be alike or to think identically; indeed, God seems not to care about many differences.  Variety is, as the cliché tells us, the spice of life.

We read also that the kingdom of God is like yeast, which begins its work unseen.  In due time, however, the influence of that yeast is impossible to miss, for the bread does rise.  Christianity began with Jesus of Nazareth and a relatively few disciples and Apostles.  Within just a few years after the crucifixion of Jesus, however, it had become impossible to ignore.  And, about a century later, Christianity had completed the process of breaking away from Judaism.  The rest is, as we say, history.

From small beginnings come great things.

The “eager expectation” of which Paul writes in Romans 8:19 is, as William Barclay describes it,

…the attitude of a man who scans the horizon with head thrust forward, eagerly searching the distance for the first signs for the first signs of the dawn break of glory.  (The Letter to the Romans, Revised Edition, 1975, page 110)

This is an appropriate passage to read in late October, as the Season after Pentecost nears its end–as early as November 26 and as late as December 2, depending on the calendar year–and Advent is near.  Beyond Advent, of course, is Christmas, that glorious season which spans December 25-January 5.  When the world seems to have gone to Hell in a handbasket and to have been there for a very long time, dare we hope for something better and trust God to redeem creation?   I hope so.

May the peace of God be with you today and always.



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