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Sunday, 10 December 2017

"Words and Deeds... Signs and Wonders."

I ask for the grace to pray and meditate faithfully.  I ask for patience, tolerance, compassion, and empathy.  I ask to abstain from anger, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, discouragement, and self-importance.  I ask for the grace to make room for the birth of a new heaven and a new earth in this time of Advent Waiting.  May my words, actions, and thoughts proclaim justice, kindness, and humility.

Romans 15:14-21
14 I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. 15Nevertheless, on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. 18For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. 20Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, 21but as it is written,
‘Those who have never been told of him shall see,
   and those who have never heard of him shall understand.’

1) "...confident about you;" "...full of goodness, filled with all knowledge;" "...the grace given my by God;" "...acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit;" "...what Christ has accomplished through me;" "...obedience from the Gentiles;" "...signs and wonders;"

2) Does Paul have the confidence in us that we ourselves lack?  There is a meme going around right now on social media, "The problem with the world is that wise people are full of doubt and stupid people are full of confidence."  Do I believe that we are "full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another"?  I have my doubts.  What's more, there are those around me who are "full of confidence."  "Nevertheless, on some points," Paul continues.  Nevertheless, how good are we at keeping the Holy Spirit at the center of our discernment?  I fear we are often too boastful of our own works rather than the works of the Holy Spirit through us.  It may be a subtle difference some days, but it is a difference just the same.  I'm game for some "signs and wonders."  Paul draws a parallel between his own work and the story of Moses.  He did not convert the Gentiles to obedience without "signs and wonders."  We could use some signs and wonders.  Are we open to witnessing signs and wonders?  Again, we spend much time boasting about "new members" who are actually folk from where "Christ has already been named," people disaffected by other expressions of Christianity.  Are we truly taking Christ to "those who have never been told of him"?

3) What is the invitation in all this?  Perhaps to be more consciously open to signs and wonders.  To more intentionally "boast" in the power of the Holy Spirit to do work through us.  To make sure it is in the Holy Spirit and not just our own egos that we are "boasting."

"Holy One, in this waiting season, show us signs and wonders."

Breathprayer: "Words and deeds... signs and wonders."

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