Romans 15: 1-13 (NRSV)
1 We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. 3 For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name”;
10 and again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;
11 and again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him”;
12 and again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We all need a bit of hope I reckon. When the Star Wars IV: A New Hope film was released way back in 1977 many of us became Jedi Knights through our imaginations fighting for good against evil personified by Darth Vader and the Empire he served.
A few years ago I was serving on an operational tour of duty and a lad came to see me to ask if he could become a Jedi Knight and change his dog tags to reflect this change of religion. This made me smile. I told him that I was happy as his Padre to recommend to the Commanding Officer his change of religious designation if he told me what it meant to be a follower of the religion of the Jedis. We then had a series of discussions about the difference of being a Jedi and a Christian. It was interesting and exciting stuff as we researched the writer of Star Wars, George Lucas, and his religious and philosophical backstory. In many ways we concluded that for the Gentiles (us) Jesus was the New Hope. Our Jedi leader.
Bless us Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.