December 16, 2020

December 16, 2020

December 16, 2020
Romans 5:1-5
Jason Gattis
District Superintendent
Smoky Mountain District

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.


In his book titled Different Seasons, the master at crafting a hair raising story of fear, Stephen King, steps away from his defining genre and sets before the reader a collection of four novellas each tied to a season of the year.  The first of the four stories present the idea that “Hope Springs Eternal” through the telling of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.  Most people know the story as a result of the 1994 film adaptation titled The Shawshank Redemption.

The protagonist, Andy DuFresne, is serving a double life prison sentence.  He has befriended a man named Red and one day over lunch broaches the subject of Hope.  Red (who also is serving a life sentence) reveals he has long ago given up on Hope when he says to his friend, “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

The year 2020 feels like a year in which Hope has driven us insane.  If the pandemic wasn’t enough, life through some extra doses of hurricanes and wildfires in addition to the most polarizing Presidential Election of our lifetime.  And COVID-19 does not seem to want to ease down at year end, so we are having to face the probability of celebrating the holidays without traditional annual events and gatherings with friends and family.

If there is ever a time we need a reminder of the Hope found in Romans, it is now.  Be sure to notice in verses three and four that Hope is produced at the end.  This leads us to see that our previous life experiences have produced the Hope that is needed for the present.  Knowing that God has ushered us through previous setbacks gives us Hope.  God will do this because God has before.

In the story from Different Seasons, Red is released on parole.  As he faces a very different world from what he had known forty years before, he comes to a crossroads where he has to decide if he is going to “get busy living or get busy dying.”  Red remembers words from his friend, Andy, and chooses his path:  “Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”


Gracious God, on a harsh and difficult night over two thousand years ago you provided Hope to a young couple awaiting the arrival of a special baby.  May that same Hope be with us now during the harsh and difficult times of today.  Amen