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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today’s Reading | Romans 5:1–11

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (NRSV)

Reflection
A major tenet of our Reformed tradition is salvation by grace through faith. It seems so simple, doesn’t it. Just believe. Personally, receiving this gift with grace has been an ever-present challenge for me. Paul’s letter to the Romans sometimes ask of me a “we” that is a greater “we” than my individual mind can grasp. In this culture of doing and having more and more, I ask myself if this gift provided to anyone who wishes to have it in their life can truly be as simple as it sounds.

As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, perhaps this is a good time to drag out into the open and to publicly discuss some of the major reasons that we come to church in the first place. Amidst the doom and gloom media message that “the church is dying,” what better time to reenter a conversation of how “church” is feeding us?

Paul mentions that not only do we “boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God,” but “we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” When I struggle with how easy this faith gift sounds on the front end, I remember that this is a God that has always been there for me through the great and the horrible. Finding God’s hope has always been more of a marathon than a sprint. “Boasting in our suffering” is somewhat counterintuitive amidst a culture of fear and anger. What can “church” truly look like in a new cultural narrative that allows one to bring their whole and complete self to its table? That’s the “we” for me!

Prayer
Dear God, thank you for the gifts of faith, grace, hope, and love! Amen.

Written by Mark Eldred, Coordinator for Worship and Adult Education


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