The Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
November 14, 2021
In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul proposes the counter-intuitive idea that we can rejoice in our sufferings (5:3). His theory is that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us. What he is talking about is not a natural chain of events or a naïve optimism. Rather, he goes on to say that God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. In other words, the Spirit of God moves us to understand how much God loves us and the world. Therefore we can trust in God’s future, even in the midst of suffering.
I believe that we are living in hopeful times. To be sure, we have passed through – and are still passing through – a time of suffering. The pandemic has been longer than anyone imagined it to be. But God worked a miracle in the past year through his agents in the scientific community, who delivered the spectacularly successful vaccines. Now the vaccines are available to children as young as age 5, and yet another segment of the population can be safeguarded from the virus. We can envision a time that is not far off when Covid is finally beaten for good. To do so is to hope in God’s future.
All of this translates into signs of recovery in New York City. At Grace Church I am noticing a level of activity that we’ve neither heard nor seen in almost two years. This weekend the Grace Christmas Fair is on. On Tuesday evenings the sounds of the Grace Church Choral Society resound throughout the church as they rehearse for their Christmas concerts on December 3 and 4. You can purchase tickets here! Also, we are forging ahead with a live, in-person Christmas pageant. The cast is set, the rehearsals are scheduled, and they will be ready to go on Christmas Eve at 4 pm.
St. Paul also famously wrote (1 Cor. 13:13) that faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Fair enough. But let’s not forget about hope. By the power of the Spirit we can see that we are living in hopeful times. Perhaps the sufferings we have been through will help to appreciate the days ahead more so than we have before.
See you in church.
The Rev. J. Donald Waring