Paul writes this letter several decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christian believers in Rome need encouragement. Paul knows many of them himself, as Romans 16 indicates. He desires to visit this group of Christians who reside at the center of the Empire to see that they are in the center of God’s will and purposes.
“The present time” (niv) refers to “the last days,” the time between Christ’s resurrection and his coming again, or parousia. Some Christians expected his immediate return; but as year follows year and he hasn’t returned, they have to think and pray differently. Paul uses the phrase “our salvation is nearer to us now” to indicate that the whole process of salvation will be consummated on Christ’s return and not before, and there is no way of knowing when that will be. But we must be ready.
The old, unbaptized life he describes as “night” and with it go the ”works of darkness,” which the believer lays aside in the sacrament of baptism when first coming to Christ. We enter into Christ, the body of Christians, and Paul says we must renew the life we receive at our baptism by daily entering into the mind of Christ and growing to be like him. We “put on the armor of light,” just as we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul tries to convey the urgency of his request; Jesus’ return is closer today than it was yesterday. He exhorts the Romans to heed the nearness of the day and take appropriate action. For some of us the image of taking off and putting on is very strong; it’s something we can do and note our progress. Being ready, being awake: We as a church can become more Christlike daily, and we hold this opportunity in the forefront of our minds and our attempts at loving.
Lord, what habits and attitudes do I need to lay aside? Help me put on the Lord Jesus Christ this day. Amen.
Advent is a new year, new time, new life: a genuine newness wrought by God in the world. As both the pro- phetic oracle and the psalm attest, Israel hopes for justice, peace, and well-being. The biblical community knows God’s intention for these matters and trusts God’s faithful promise. Thus Advent begins in a vision of a healed alternative for the world. The New Testament readings intensify the long-standing hopes and make the promises of God immediate prospects. The intensity and present tense of New Testament faith revolve around the presence of Jesus, whose very person initiates a new beginning in the world. The church at Advent watches in order to notice where God is bringing justice, peace, and well-being.
• Read Isaiah 2:1-5. What are your experiences of freedom and un-freedom? Consider how your demands for freedom in certain areas cause others to experience un-freedom.
• Read Psalm 122. When have you gathered for worship with a diverse community? What do you perceive as the bene ts of such a gathering?
• Read Romans 13:11-14. The writer suggests that we con- sider our salvation as a journey. Where are you along the way?
• Read Matthew 24:36-44. We are to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. How do you manifest your “readiness” for the coming of the kingdom?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.