Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent 4a - Romans 1:1-7

Romans 1:1-7
The letter to the Romans begins with a seven verse sentence all of which serves as preface to “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It could be that Paul, like this blogger, likes run on sentences because periods just waste time. It could be that grace to you and peace is easier said than done and needs a seven verse sentence to remind the Romans that while they are not nearly as conflicted as the Corinthians there are some hard feelings between Jewish and Gentile Christians residing in Rome. The promise beforehand through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures about the Son descended from David (think Jew) is also declared the Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness for the obedience of faith among the Gentiles, so that both Jew and Gentile might be called “God’s beloved in Rome.” I think there a lot of things the church can get wrong and still claim the cross of Christ but living together in grace and peace as God’s beloved is not one of them. The inclusion of Gentiles into what was a Jewish religion goes beyond any of the denominational divisions that define the church today and we would do well to note that those outside the church see our inability to live together in grace and peace as proof the Gospel is not worth the paper it’s printed on. “Christian unity is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate” or so said Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Does that mean the divisions that define us are not essential and we should all join hands and sing Kum by Yah? Well, why not? Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Or in other words, Kum by Yah.


  1. So true, so true. Let there be peace in God's church and let it begin with me.

  2. Always an interesting topic.
    I like your perspective on unity, and also think that “let it begin with me” is the right answer. But, unity is a difficult topic because Christianity is so very divided. I think I’ve been exposed to much more of that variation than most people have, because I have attended Lutheran (ELCA & LCMS), Baptist, non-denominational, Church of Christ, Methodist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic congregations. I have been a member of a 50 person LCMS congregation, and a member of one of the largest Baptist megachurches in the world.
    There have been times when I’ve seriously wondered whether or not everyone is even talking about the same Jesus. I say that heartfelt, not tongue-in-cheek. There are times when I’ve thought that maybe we use the same name – Jesus – but are talking about entirely different Gods.
    The problem is dogma – theological dogma – and this innate compulsion to be “right.” I’ve been there too, all caught up in my rightness, and so sure that God fit neatly in my own little theological box. Then one day I woke up and realized that in some areas of life, being right really is the booby prize.
    I came to understand that we are all indeed talking about the same Jesus. I came to know that, not because of what I read about a church’s theological positions or even because of what I heard said from a pulpit or stage. I came to know this because of the Spirit’s movement in individual people’s hearts and lives – a glimmer in someone’s eye, an act of kindness, random acts of selflessness and servanthood. Our labels, our fears and our dogma divide us, but the Holy Spirit unites us.
    So, let it begin with me really is the right answer. Maybe if more of us made that our answer, the church would be a better witness to the world it has been called to serve.

  3. Yes. View others through the same lens of grace we believe God sees us - forgive as you have been forgiven.