Foreshadowing

Jeff Munroe

Read: Hebrews 2:10-18 . . . he, for whom and by whom all things exist . . . (v. 10) Even after four decades, I still remember when I learned in college about foreshadowing. We were reading John Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice and Men, and our professor showed us how the story’s tragic conclusion was suggested earlier in several places throughout the book. Later, I learned the dramatic principle called “Chekov’s gun,” attributed to the Russian writer Anton Checkov: …

Pure Grace

Jeff Munroe

Read: Revelation 20:11–21:8 The home of God is among mortals. (21:3 NRSV) I started this series of devotionals saying that the event we truly await during Advent is not the birth of Jesus but the second coming of Jesus. Our Scripture today takes us beyond that to the culmination of history in the final judgment. A lot of fear and anxiety has been created over the centuries by John’s graphic vision of a second death in a lake of fire, …

Increasing and Decreasing

Jeff Munroe

Read: John 3:22-30 He must increase, but I must decrease. (v. 30) There was an old-time baseball manager who once said of his team, “I managed good but boy did they play bad.” That’s the opposite of how leadership should be measured. What matters is not the brilliance of the head but the tone of the body. Great leaders take the spotlight off themselves. John the Baptist illustrated this in these verses. A question about purification quickly devolved into a …

Getting It

Jeff Munroe

Read: Luke 7:28-35 [They] rejected the purpose of God for themselves. (v. 30) How did you “get it”? How did the good news of the gospel first come together for you? I was strongly influenced by the youth ministry of my church. I was bored silly watching filmstrips in Sunday school, and never quite understood what the pastor’s sermons were about in regular church. But in youth group I was with friends, and we sang cool songs, laughed a lot, …

Not Slow but Patient

Jeff Munroe

Read: 2 Peter 3:1-10 The Lord is . . . patient toward you. (v. 9) During Advent, and then continuing through the end of December, the Words of Hope devotional is written by a group of faculty and staff from Western Theological Seminary. Our community is thoughtful and reflective, and we fully embrace the liturgical seasons of the church year as we worship together. Advent is a favorite season for our community. This time of year is muted and dark …

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

Jeff Munroe

Read: Psalm 8 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (v. 1) I’m breaking, in this final “beautiful passage,” from the King James Version’s translation of verse 1. I prefer the word “majestic,” used by the ESV, over the KJV’s “excellent.” “How majestic is your name” rolls off the tongue beautifully. The Psalms, as I’m sure you know, were originally sung, and we sing Psalm 8 still, because the words are both beautiful and …