Sunday at St Andrew's

19 July 2020, 10am

Trinity 6

 

Series: Romans ‘Good News for All’

8. Romans 8.12-25: 'Good news: adopted by God'

Speaker: James Cook

 

If you find this type difficult to read,

please look at this page.

 

Watch the sermon again 

 


Welcome to this ‘virtual service’ from St Andrew’s Eaton. 

Today we continue working our way through Romans chapter 8. It continues to be ‘Good News for All’, and yet today we’re confronted by an odd mix – of ‘groaning’ on the one hand, and ‘assurance’ on the other. 

We also see how strong is our connection with the whole of God’s creation, how we are part of it, just as it is a part of us – with God’s loving redemption expressed in every part of the created order.

As we begin, let’s pray that God will still our hearts and minds and speak to us in this time today.

 

INTRODUCTION                

Leader: Grace, mercy and peace

             from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

             be with you

All:        and also with you.

 

Leader:  Loving God, we have come to worship you.

All:        Help us to pray to you in faith,
             to sing your praise with gratitude,
             and to listen to your word with eagerness;
             through Christ our Lord.
             Amen.

 

HYMN: How great thou art 

 

CONFESSION  

 

Leader:     St Paul teaches that human sin disfigures the whole creation 

which groans with eager longing for God’s redemption.

 We confess our sin in penitence and faith.

              cf Romans 8.22,23       

 

Leader:    We confess to you our lack of care for the world you have given us.

Lord, have mercy.

All:          Lord, have mercy.

Leader:   We confess to you our selfishness 

               in not sharing the earth’s bounty fairly.    

               Christ, have mercy.

All:          Christ, have mercy.

Leader:    We confess to you our failure 

               to protect resources for others.

Lord, have mercy.

All:          Lord, have mercy.

Leader:   May the Father of all mercies

               cleanse us from our sins,

               and restore us in his image

               to the praise and glory of his name,

               through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:          Amen.

 

PSALM 139.1-13, 23-24      

 

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

 

FIRST READING

Romans 8.12-25 or listen here.

Paul speaks of adoption and future glory

 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

HYMN: Holy Spirit, come confirm us

      

SECOND READING 

Matthew 13. 24-30& 36-43 or listen here.

The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

 

This is the word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

 

SERMON (James Cook)

Romans 8.12-25:

‘Good News: Adopted by God’

I want to say first off, a big thank you to all of you who have done so much to welcome me and Stephanie and help us feel at home in these strange times. It was hard to leave Ridley without a formal send-off, and it was hard to arrive at St Andrew’s without an opportunity to meet you all in person – though it has been a joy to meet some of you in the past weeks as I’ve walked about the parish, and do please get in touch if I could pop by and I haven’t yet done so.

A world of groaning

There is so much, isn’t there, that is not as it should be in these pandemic days. The inconvenience of needing to wear a face mask when out at the shops, having to queue to get into the supermarket, needing to keep a distance from those we pass by. The pain of not being able to hug our nearest and dearest, if we are even able to see them physically at all. The worry about getting a job, or keeping hold of the one we currently have. The suffering of those who have been struck down by the virus; the grief of those who have lost loved ones. 

It is so clear that things are not as they should be, and we so often talk about getting back to ‘normal’. Returning to life where we can pop to the shops whenever we want, when we can be close to those we love, when employment seems more secure. But, of course, even ‘normal’ life is still not life as life should be. We are distanced from others by geography or by misunderstandings and past quarrels. There are still worries about finances, there is still sickness and disease, there is still, sadly, loss and bereavement. All the pandemic has done is merely to highlight for us how much life is not as it should be.

As Phil has said, we’re currently working our way through chapter 8 of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, and for many people this chapter is the high point of the letter, and indeed their favourite part of scripture. It is a rich chapter full of hope, and what a chapter for me to preach on for my first sermon here at St Andrew’s! But these encouraging words of hope are very much spoken into a world of pain and suffering. Paul describes it as a world of groaning. The whole creation, in fact, Paul says ‘has been groaning in labour pains until now’, and we ourselves ‘groan inwardly’. We groan as we see a world around us that is so very far from how it should be. And maybe we do not groan enough. Maybe we could lament more the brokenness of creation, the inequalities of society, the wrong that remains in our own hearts. None of this is life as it should be, and it is right that we lament it, that we groan for it.

The assurance of adoption

In this world of groaning, Paul speaks words of incredible comfort and hope. Last week we reached that wonderful climax of Paul’s letter, those glorious words that ‘there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus’ – wonderful words that speak of our complete forgiveness, the slate wiped clean. But in this passage, Paul goes further even than that: it is not only that we are accepted and not condemned, as if by a law-court judge who otherwise has no real interest in our lives; no, more than that, we are adopted into the family of God. Paul says that those who are ‘led by the Spirit of God’ – that is those who are followers of Jesus Christ and have received his Spirit – they ‘are children of God’. In this world of groaning, it is natural to feel the absence of God, to question whether he really cares – and, of course, so many are led to question whether he’s there at all. But Paul says, when we turn and come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are brought into God’s home and taken into his loving care. We’re not simply given a room for the night, we’re given a place in the family. We’re not simply shown warm hospitality, we’re treated as treasured children of a loving parent. We’re not simply given a clean slate and sent on our way, we’re enfolded in God’s arms of love.

And such is the intimacy between us and our heavenly Father, that the Spirit leads us to cry out to him ‘Abba, Father’. God’s intention for us is not to be like an adopted child who sadly never really feels at home in the family, who always feels somewhat on the edge, like they don’t truly belong, never really able truly to call their adopted parents ‘mum’ and ‘dad’. No, God’s intention is for us to be fully members of his family, able to call upon him as our Father. And, Paul says, it is the Holy Spirit who draws us into ever deeper relationship with him, and makes us aware, deep within, of the tender love that God has for each of us, such that we call upon God in that intimate, family language of ‘Father’. And that experience of intimacy will come and go throughout our Christian lives, precisely because we live in a world that is not as it should be, a world of groaning; but God’s intention for us, is that we know him as our tender, loving Father.

The hope of glory

But our status as adopted children of God does not only tell us of God’s tender loving care here and now; it also speaks of our future hope. Being adopted means we receive the full privileges of rightful children, and that means we are also God’s heirs. Just think of that: heirs, along with Christ, of all that belongs to God, heirs in other words of glory, and this is the theme Paul turns to in the second half of our passage. Of course, this inheritance is not something we will come into when our heavenly Father passes away (as if such a thing could happen), but we will receive it when Christ returns. It’s a future we look forward to now in eager anticipation. Indeed he says that all of creation is waiting ‘with eager longing’ for this moment, and the word there translated ‘wait with eager longing’ carries the sense of craning your head forwards to try and see something on the distant horizon. I think perhaps of the image of weary travellers in the wilderness craning their heads forwards at the hazy sight of an oasis ahead, so eager are they to get to a place of refreshment. Such is the pain of this world that we groan with longing, with yearning for the refreshment, the glory, the joy that awaits us. 

Paul gives another image in verse 22, that of the mother going through labour, in immense pain right now, but knowing that something truly wonderful will soon arrive. And we too might be groaning in such pain right now, but we have hope that something truly wonderful will soon arrive, something so wonderful, Paul says in verse 18, that it will not even be worth comparing to the suffering we currently experience. We might feel like we are sinking under a tidal wave of pain, of groaning in the present, but the joy we will experience in the time to come will be so much greater that it will make that tidal wave seem like a mere ripple. This is the Christian hope. 

And what is it that we hope for? Did you see how Paul describes our future hope in verses 21 and 23? He speaks of freedom, of glory, of adoption – the full experience of that, I guess – of redemption. What is it we hope for? We hope for freedom from all that enslaves, we hope for a resplendent glory that shines into even the darkest recesses of despair, we hope for full adoption never to doubt our belovedness again, we hope for final redemption of bodies plagued by sin and disease. What a wonderful hope for those who are groaning, groaning in hope of something better. And this is not pie-in-the-sky optimism. No. This is a sure and certain hope because it is grounded in the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 17, Paul says that we are ‘joint heirs with Christ – if, in fact we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him’. Because Christ went through suffering for our sake before passing to glory, so we can be confident that we who are his followers he will bring through our present sufferings in order to seat us with him in his glory. Jesus is the true hope for the groaning. 

 

A version of this sermon in video format will be available on the St Andrew’s channel on YouTube, from later on Sunday 19 July.  

 

HYMN: As the deer pants for the water 

 

PRAYERS 

God the Father, says of Jesus Christ the Son,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of your Kingdom.

You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;

Therefore God, your God, has anointed you…” (Heb. 1: 8-9 and Ps. 45: 6-7)

Our Father, we come to the Throne Room of Grace full of praise and humble adoration with thanksgiving.  We come confident and assured that we are your children (Rom. 8:16); with the knowledge that we are privileged to be loved by you, the Father (1 John 4:8); we come as a redeemed people, bought and cleansed from the slave market of sin and death; declared righteous through the shed blood of Jesus, the Son (2 Cor. 5:21); fit for the in-dwelling of your Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), as we confess and make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives.  

Father increase our understanding of the lengths to which you have gone, to draw us back to you for the intimate relationship you long to have with us. Help us to choose your paths of righteousness and your ways of doing things; becoming imitators of God, as beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1)  

Lord in Your mercy

Hear our Prayer             

We pray for all in authority around the world

We lift to you Heads of State and Government and all who work with and through their influence. You know each one by name, because you are God of all creation.  

We pray specifically for cooperation between and amongst trade blocs. We ask for your justice to prevail on behalf of disadvantaged nations, in negotiations and trade deals; that core issues surrounding unfair trade agreements will be confronted and dealt with, for a more equitable and peaceful world. We ask that your hand will be upon the imminent selection process for the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation; that the right choice will be made for your purposes.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

As your hands and feet in this world, we ask that you would awaken your Church to discern the times.  Revive your Church; raise up bold, Godly leaders, ready like those of old, to defy convention and bring about Biblical transformation, to your glory. That they would seize opportunities to bring light in darkness and be bold in declaring your truth, with your love and compassion, by the unique authority you have given your Church, through your Son Jesus Christ our Saviour.                                                 

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We pray for your abundant grace to prevail and overcome the darkness of the pandemic; that you will intervene, slow down and cease its spread globally. We ask for rapid and viable outcomes to be achieved with the search for a vaccine and that equity will rule in its use and distribution.

Lord in Your mercy

Hear our Prayer

We lift to you our nation as we pray for our Head of State Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh; our Head of Government the Prime Minister and His Cabinet; the Leader of the Opposition; all Members of both Houses of Parliament.  We ask that you would bless them with the physical and mental strength to execute their part for the good of our nation. Encourage them by your Spirit, not to grow weary with the weight of pending decisions.  

We pray for unity within Parliament and with advisory entities; in the face of the challenges, with the call for the nation to get back to places of work. We ask that, by your Spirit, you would quell the gloomy outlook of a recession.  We ask that robust but fair measures will be put in place, to secure the economy and avert an economic downturn and social disruption.

Lord in Your mercy

Hear our Prayer

We lift to you our Archbishops, Justin and John, and all who serve with them; our Bishop, Graham and our Archdeacons and their support teams.  Grant them your Spirit of wisdom and revelation, as they seek to translate Government directives into workable plans for the Dioceses.

Father, we plead for our nation.  Mercifully breathe peace over our land and cause righteous law and order to reign.

Lord in Your mercy

Hear our Prayer

We pray for ourselves here at St Andrew’s.  Strengthen and help us to remain grounded in the Truth of your Living Word.  We thank you for our Vicar Phil and the very able support team working with him.  Bless them each with your peace and clear thinking, as they embark on tackling decisions on how to get back to normal church life.

We pray for our congregation and those suffering in any way amongst us, asking for your hand of healing upon them. We remember to you our children and youth. Bless them immeasurably as they develop and grow in the knowledge of you.  In a moment of quiet, let us hold up to our Father anyone known to us needing His touch… Grant us all your peace as we look to you for answers.  

Lord in Your mercy

Hear our Prayer

A prayer to collect together all our intercessions today

Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Amen.

 

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours

now and for ever.  

Amen.

 

HYMN : I will sing the wondrous story 

 

THE BLESSING

Leader:    May God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who is the source of all goodness and growth,

pour his blessing upon all things created,

and upon us his children,

that we may use his gifts to his glory 

and the welfare of all peoples;

and the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always.

All:          Amen.

Leader:    The peace of the Lord be always with you

All:          and also with you.

 

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION

 

  1. How do we see the ‘world of groaning’?
  2. James says: ‘Were not simply given a room for the night, we’re given a pace in the family.’  What does our adoption into Christ’s family mean for you?
  3. ‘A sure and certain hope.’  What do you hope for, and how would you describe our Christian hope?
  4. Which is your favourite verse from Romans 8.12-25?  Why?

 

 

 

Church of England logo


Printer Printable Version