Monday, January 10, 2011

Romans 16

The listing of believers, of sisters and brothers in Christ, remind us that Paul wrote to people he knew. This book in the Bible is first and foremost a letter written to specific people and a community of believers 2,000 years ago. Paul did not sit down to write this letter with the intent of it one day being in the New Testament, something that did not exist when he was writing it. He wrote to encourage the faith community in Rome. With that it reminds us of the importance of keeping these words and thoughts in their context.

Romans 15

As our faith increases so does our calling to be a witness and aid to those who are new to the faith.

Romans 14

Paul reminds us that living in Christ will not result in us all agreeing upon everything. In fact what we will find is a gathering of people with different opinions and life practices. The one thing we should all agree upon is following God. Opinions on diet or on the day we worship are not as important as treating each other with respect. Listening to each other and respecting each other helps us in our practice of listening to and respecting God.

Be concerned with yourself and do not set up stumbling blocks for other believers who do not agree with you. This chapter can be summed up with two words, humility & compassion.

Romans 13

This chapter has been interpreted quite literally to mean that all government authorities are ordained by God and should be respected (regardless of their acts of injustice). Yet there are numerous passages in the Bible where we find that faithful people have called out rulers that are unjust. Peter preaches about Jesus in the book of Acts and ends up in prison for it. God sends Moses to free the Hebrews who are enslaved in Egypt. After 10 plagues the Pharaoh frees the slaves but as they are leaving he changes his mind and God parts the waters of the Red Sea allowing the Hebrews to get to safety and freedom.

So I think the key to this passage is int he beginning of it. "All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it's God's order." When there is injustice God calls for change. All of the prophets of the Old Testament preached against the injustice and wrong actions of both the kings and their people.

So perhaps Paul is saying to follow the rules and if they are not fair work for change in an orderly respectful way. Be connected to God at all times so that we are sure to be action out God's desires and not just our own desires.

More on Romans 12

Rather than compartmentalize our lives in areas of sleeping, eating, going to work, going to worship, etc. as times without or without God, we are to integrate God into every moment of our day. God should always be our primary focus.

Paul reminds us of the importance of being connected to a faith community. I am constantly inspired and challenged to trust more fully in God when I am part of a church community.

In verses 11-13 we are reminded that we need time for Sabbath, for retreat. I take my Fridays off from the church pretty seriously. I find that I need to to a break in order to gain perspective, to get rest, and to trust that God is in charge.

Paul speaks about how we are all servants in Christ. In all that we do and say our lives should point to God, in our hospitality, in our moments of not returning evil for evil, in our moments of taking a break and a rest. Our lives when focused on God can be a testament to our faith in God.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Romans 12

This chapter is full of inspiring information. Paul begins by grounding us in the reality that we are all part of the family of God, everything we do, is because God has graced us with the ability to do it. In verses 12 and 13 he wrote "Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers." He then goes on to preach what he preached time and time again; that we are to be fully present with one another. Time and time again in the gospels Jesus begins his words "Listen." We can only be fully present with one another when we actually listen to one another and to God's still small voice.

Easter ... ready ... set ... go!

Matthew 28:1-10 About three years ago I committed to the Narrative Lectionary.   It is a four-year cycle that takes the congregation t...