Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pentecost 13a - Romans 14:1-12

I think vegetarian and former Calvary intern turned Pittsburgh Pastor Tara Lynn might have a quarrel or two with the apostle Paul over who is weak. It takes no small measure of chutzpah to eat vegetarian at a Texas BBQ joint. Thank God for pickles! Of course vegetarians take a little bit of ribbing in Texas and other red meat states as well but maybe not the same as in the early church where “you are what you eat” were fighting words. Centuries of animosity between Jew and Gentile did not disappear overnight. If anything the differences that could be largely avoided through segregation were now inescapable. So Paul reminds them that they are no longer defined by their personal piety for they belong to Lord who welcomes Jew and Gentile alike no matter what they eat or which day they observe. On a more personal note this passage took on new meaning for me some years ago when my mother called from Chicago to say my father was being taken back into surgery because his bypass was leaking. At the end of what you can imagine was an emotional conversation she quoted this passage from Paul as the source of her strength, and my father’s as well.  “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s,” That is why you memorize scripture and sacred song so that when life itself hangs in the balance the words that have informed your life come to mind and are more than able to give confidence to a father, courage to a wife and comfort to a son.

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