Summary: A sermon for Advent.
“The Entire Creation Groans”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
Several weeks ago, I went hiking along the Chickamauga Creek in Soddy Daisy.
It’s an awesome trail, and it was a beautiful day!
The sun was shining, there was just a hint of crispness in the air, and the trees were at their height of Fall beauty.
I walked several miles through the woods, and climbed higher and higher as I went.
Finally, I came to a wooden staircase and I began to climb steeply.
I kept going and going, and suddenly, instead of thick trees all around me, I was standing on a slab of rock.
It was a view!
I was looking down, not only on the whole large woods but also on the towns beyond.
I could see other hills in the distance and smoke rising in between.
Half the county seemed to lie there before me.
Romans Chapter 8:18-25 is like that view.
From this passage we can see, in astonishing clarity, the whole plan of salvation for all of God’s creation.
And once you’ve glimpsed this view, you will never forget it!
In the beginning, the human race was put in charge of God’s creation, but we humans rebelled and creation fell as well.
In Genesis 3:17 God says to Adam, “Cursed be the ground because of you.”
Look again at verse 20: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
When we look at the world of creation, we see a world in the same condition as the children of Israel were in when they were enslaved in Egypt.
Just as God allowed the Israelites to go down into Egypt, so that in bringing them out He could define them forever as the freedom-from-slavery people, so God has allowed creation to be subjected to its present round of summer and winter, growth and decay, birth and death.
It’s beautiful, yes.
Just like those Fall leaves that I enjoyed on my hike…
…but now those leaves are brown and many of us have been trying to keep them off our yards with rakes and leaf blowers.
The beauty of creation always ends in tears or at least a shrug of the shoulders.
Or what about earthquakes and active volcanoes?
In them, we can sense the awe of creations futile power.
Creation can sometimes seem like a caged lion…
…all that energy, and its not achieving anything!
And think of the wild animals!
What about that promise that the wolf and the lamb will be lying down together?
Is that happening now?
Is that just a dream?
“No,” says Paul in our Scripture lesson, “it isn’t a dream! It’s a promise. All these things are signs that the world as it is, though still God’s good creation, and pregnant with His power and glory, is not currently the way it should be.”
Something has gone terribly wrong!
The human race was put in charge of creation, but when we rebelled creation fell into disrepair.
Verse 22 reads: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
The entire creation is waiting on tip-toe…
…longing for us humans to again take our place under God and over the world, worshipping the Creator and being excellent stewards over the world!!!
What do you think of that?
There will come a day, and nature is longing for it, when sin’s dominion will be broken, death and decay will be gone, and God’s glory will come in its fullness!!!
Today is the first Sunday of Advent and Advent is the beginning of the Church Year.
It’s also a time of great tension because it’s mainly concerned with the Second Coming of Christ, and not, as our contemporary American commercial appetite would have it…
With that said, we now celebrate Advent as an expression for both the First and Second Comings of Christ.
It’s about the “already” of Christ having come in the flesh and the “not yet” of the consummation of all things in Christ at the end time.
It’s both a time of thanks for the gift of Christ to us and in us and a time of eager anticipation of Christ’s Second Coming.
Jesus Christ was born into this world like all of us…
…a little baby…
…and yet, Jesus was both human and divine.
God took on flesh and God lived with us.
He taught us how to live and believe.
He was tempted in every way we are, and yet was without sin.