(Wondering what this is? For more information, see the introduction.)
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8
The longing for redemption from futility to a full and free life is not just our own – all creation “groans in labour pains” to be set free from exploitation and abuse at human hands. The same sense of eager and tormented longing, which Paul sees in the world around us, in found also in the depths of our own hearts, deeper than our words and understanding, in the deep sighs of longing and compassion. The same Holy Spirit of compassion and hope breathes through all of creation and our own innermost core.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind;
O bid our bitter conflicts cease,
And be for us our Prince of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
This Advent devotional is intended to help you enter into the season of advent. We hope you enjoy it! Much thanks to the Rev. Paul Jennings for his help putting these reflections together.