The Glory to be Revealed

I can’t be sure, but I’d be willing to bet at least a couple of dollars that more than 80% of the funerals that I’ve been a part of in my seven years of ordained ministry have included a reading from Romans 8.  The assigned passage for Sunday doesn’t include all of the lesson suggested in the Burial Office, but it does capture the key line for preaching, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”  On this day, as the 24 hour news agencies can’t keep up with the carnage between a Malaysian Airlines 777 being possibly shot down over the disputed region of the Ukraine and Israeli Defense Forces beginning a ground assault on the Gaza Strip, this word of hope that Paul offers the struggling Church in Rome seems so very far away.

On days like today, it is easy to make Romans 8:18 into a nice platitude, “Oh, don’t worry hunny, this ain’t nothing compared to the glory to be revealed.”  Heck, we can even turn it into a beach scene suitable for social media.

grumpy cat

 

But I think most of us agree that people who say that sort of crap should be punched square in the mouth.  Yes, it is true that joy and glory is a secure promise for those who are in Christ, but the reality is that suffering still happens on earth.  People still do terrible things to other people.  Sometimes nature is a force too strong to fathom.  Violence and war are still a part of even our most progressive cultures.  Weeds still grow alongside wheat.

Pointing to the glory that is to come is a nice thought, but what matters more in those moments of grief and pain is the presence of another human being, who’s #1 job is to just be.  Skip the platitudes.  Don’t share the pretty picture. Sit with those who are suffering and offer them a hug and a shoulder to cry on, and maybe silently say a prayer for the glory to come sooner rather than later.

O merciful Father, who has taught us in your holy Word that you do not willingly afflict or grieve your children: Look with pity upon the sorrows of those for whom our prayers are offered.  Remember them, O Lord, in mercy, nourish their souls with patience, comfort them with a sense of your goodness, lit up your countenance upon them, and given them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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4 thoughts on “The Glory to be Revealed

  1. Steve,
    I’m not sure how much Paul is talking about human condition suffering, as such. It seems to me that the suffering being described is more the suffering with Christ he has just described (and has to do more with the sufferings and persecutions of ministry) or the sufferings of the labor pains of creation that we (can but don’t necessarily have to) share in. That second suffering seems to be a particular one of longing for the Kingdom of God to come, which is incredibly painful if we are pouring our hearts out in prayer and effort as we dedicate ourselves to the birthing of the Kingdom of God like a mother birthing her child.

    I don’t usually use this at funerals. Although I can see where it could be used pastorally in a situation of someone sick and suffering and then dying, or any number of other places, I actually think Paul is saying something much more powerful here that challenges us to throw our whole beings into the longing for the revealing of the children of God.

    Just my two cents. Grateful, as always, for your thoughts.

  2. Loved today’s post. So very true. I almost did punch a guy in the mouth when he gave me this very verse after my dad’s accident. I wish more folks in ministry shared your insight

  3. Pingback: For those who don’t like Parable Season | Draughting Theology

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