Ten Minute Sermons
The Collect for the 2nd Sunday in Advent:
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear
them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace,
and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Patience and Comfort
And from today's Epistle:
Whatsoever things were written afore time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Patience and Comfort
One of the things I so much enjoyed when I was sitting in on that side of this pulpit was listening to Lige open-up the meaning of a word or a phrase to a richness I never before had experienced.
Peter Gomes of Harvard pines, "How we long for language that inspires as well as instructs, whose economy is both chaste and capacious, and by the use of which we are make aware of holy and lovely things".
And with the King James Translation of the Bible and the Collects of Thomas Cranmer as found in our prayer book we have language that is both chaste (short and sweet) and capacious (full of meaning).
And by focusing today on two chaste and capacious nouns…Patience and Comfort…I hope we can enhance our awareness of holy and lovely things.
Patience: Now for most of us the meaning of the word is reasonably straight-forward. Patience is the ability to suppress restlessness when confronted with delay. Patience is bearing provocation, annoyance or pain without complaint or irritation.
But in our Epistle reading today, the word Patience is more associated with perseverance or steadfastness. The Greek word hoo-po-mo-ne' clearly suggests an even-tempered care…even-tempered care. It is a noun that expresses love and it is also a noun that suggests a progression to a result.
I have patience with my daughter Katie as she is learning math. Learning math is hard, I know that. And more importantly I care about Katie and I care that she learns this material. So I will sit with her, invest time…and if she doesn't pick up the concept, we will try again…and if she still doesn't grab the concept…well, I'll change tactics and present the material differently. Not a different message mind you…math is math, it doesn't change…but I'll try a different teaching method, a different path to have her arrive at the appropriate truth. And I do this because I care that she embraces the substance of what we are learning.
So think of patience in the context of today's readings: not just even-temperedness, but steadfastness…perseverance because a loving God wants you to embrace the truth of the Gospel.
Patience: Patience and Comfort.
Comfort: well there's a word most of us would like to be more familiar with. Comfort: being at ease with something…having our wants and desires accommodated…the "life of Riley". Well, not in this case.
The Greek word the Apostle Paul uses in our Epistle today is Para-klee-sis: its meaning is more attuned with the archaic use of the word comfort…meaning, strengthening aid, or assistance.
If you give aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war you are not making them cozy with a big fluffy blanket and a warm cup of milk. Rather, comforting the enemy is strengthening them, arming them, making them capable of pressing forward with their plans so your ends might be met.
Likewise, here comfort for the Christian is a strengthening, an encouragement, that will allow an individual to persevere in the truth of the Gospel.
Comfort: it too is a noun that expresses love and suggests a progression to a result.
So…Patience and Comfort…perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures.
God's Holy Scripture itself possess patience, it preservers in our education despite our slowness to learn. The Holy Scriptures loves you and cares to strengthen you. The Holy Word of God…
What? What's that you say? How can a book, this Bible actually have patience…it's an inanimate object? Oh yes, the Bible gives me comfort, but it's a book, it can't care about me.
In Paul where it says "patience and comfort of the Scriptures" it must me my patience and my comfort afforded by the Scriptures…right?
Well no. First there's the Greek…don't worry, I won't bore you with the grammatical structure (Like Yoda, it sounds). But it is clear patience and comfort refer to the Scriptures…and in the very next verse Paul turns this phrase about and leaves no doubt when he talks about "the God of patience and comfort".
Here's the point. This is not a mere book. This is the Word of God. You hear these words, you hear the Words of God: Inspired and preserved for us by His Holy Spirit. This story was written by our Creator before time began. This story is embodied in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.
Of course God's Word has patience with us, because our loving Father has a steadfast desire that we seize the hope of everlasting life through His Son. Of course God's Word reaches out to comfort us, because the Paraclete, the very Holy Spirit of God inspired this living Testament of God's love. Of course God's loving Word calls you to an intimate relationship so you might obtain a particular end: hope of life everlasting through the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ.