Saturday, July 05, 2008

Romans 8:18-25 "Groaning for Hope"

Last week six men from St. Matthew's hiked a trail in Shenandoah National Park. Our destination was Overall Run Falls, at 93 feet the highest cascade in the Blue Ridge. The trail was wide and clearcut, and I walked at Mark's left as we talked. "Oh my goodness" I said to myself, stopping short of a large black snake which loomed just ahead of Mark's next step. The snake itself seemed to take little notice of it, perhaps fat and sluggish from just having eaten, but as it leisurely disappeared into the brush it raised the last 3-inch section of its tail and rattled it like a castanet. "Don't tread on me."

Thus was my first-ever encounter with the Eastern Rattlesnake.

The whole of creation, Paul says, is groaning (and, perhaps, rattling), as we ourselves are groaning within, for redemption. This world that we know has remnants of the beauty that was Eden. But our redemption is not to be removed altogether from the earth, but to become part of the New Heaven and New Earth for which God is preparing us, according to the view of N.T. Wright in his most recent book, "Surprised by Hope." (For an excellent synopsis that will whet your appetite for the book, listen to
So, perhaps, in that hope that lies just beyond our sight, we shall walk on trails with snakes that have no cause to rattle, nor shall we fear to tread. We shall find cascades of living water that will refresh us for eternity. Until then we are groaning, but not as people who have no hope. Just as mortals who are thirsty from the hike and sore in our weak knees, and just a bit wary of what today may bring.

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