Longing for Home: An Advent Journey, 2016 — Day Seventeen


Psalm 42
Ezekiel 47:1-12
Jude 17-25

Jude 17-25

But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.” It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

So how is it that some of the most glorious words in the entire New Testament — that closing blessing in the last paragraph — should be preceded by the weird words of the first paragraph?

Well, I remind myself, these early Christians really believed that Christ’s return was imminent, so they gave warnings to one another. “Get ready!” “Be blameless!” “Watch out for the bad guys!” 

And whoever the writer of this tiny letter may have been, he/she did want to pass along those words of caution! But sliced right into the middle are some pretty good suggestions for how to live well in a time of uncertainty, don’t you think? ‘Build ourselves up on your most holy faith,’ ‘pray in the Spirit,’ ‘keep ourselves in the love of God,’ ‘look forward to the mercy of Jesus Christ,’ — the mercy that leads to eternal life.

Oh, yes, I’d say that list is a humdinger! 

So, I’ll take the warnings to heart, but not too deeply. I actually haven’t a clue in the world what that last one means — ‘have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.’ Youch! What I’ll take from that strange statement is the idea of mercy, I think. Mercy even for those who frighten us, those who are different, whose lifestyles seem highly questionable. Even those.

After all, if we’re doing the things on that great list, there should be no room for hatred or judgment, should there? Yes, care should be taken . . . always. But, mercy wins in the end.

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  1. That sentence struck me hard, too, Diana. We are all guilty of being too quick to judge others who are different or who frighten us. But showing mercy wins out over any fear or prejudice we might have.