Before Jesus’ birth, the angels appeared to some shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem. They came announcing good news of peace and renewal – tidings of comfort and joy.
We asked 25 people to prepare a meditation for us to read and listen to every day through Advent. We are delighted to share their work with you.
God bless you as you read, listen and pray.
1 Peter 1: 3 – 9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
The giving and receiving of presents at Christmas reminds us of two significant truths. Firstly, that it is better to give than to receive. Why? Because the eternal inheritance we have received from God far outweighs the material things of this world and therefore the showing and receiving of kindness and generosity highlights the grace, kindness and generosity of our Father to us. Secondly there is something about the excitement and mystery of the unknown which is out of sight until the wrapping paper is removed. Even if it is a gift we have asked for there is joyful anticipation over what is hidden underneath.
In the same way the gift of God, eternal life, is something given entirely by God’s grace. However, like one of those presents we have asked for – we know what is coming but we are still awaiting its full revelation.
Peter is writing about exactly this to encourage a church going through very difficult times. Even when we are suffering ‘various trials’, whether through the pandemic, or mental or physical ill health, whether financial, whether through the breakdown of relationships, or the loss of something we once had that we wish could be restored…. There are so many trials in life which have the potential to turn our eyes downwards. Peter urges us to remember the Living Hope we live with that this world is temporary, but ‘the salvation of our souls’ is eternal. Theologian Tom Wright spells out the yet to be seen glory of our Living Hope:
“Our new life which God created for us that first Easter day isn’t just about people being transformed. God has, through that great action, created a whole new world. At the moment it is being kept safe, out of sight, behind the thin invisible curtain which separates our world (earth) from God’s world. But one day the curtain will be drawn back; and then the ‘incorruptible inheritance’, at present being kept safe in heaven, will be merged with our earthly reality, transforming it and soaking it through with God’s presence, love and mercy (verse 4). And if that new world is kept safe for us, Peter assures us that we, in turn, are being kept safe for it.”
Faith itself is the anchor which holds us firm in that Living Hope (v. 5).