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Friday, July 24, 2015

Today’s Reading | Romans 6:1–11

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NRSV)

When my aunt was diagnosed with, and suffering through, a particularly aggressive form of leukemia, she said, “It’s not death I mind. It’s the dying.”

Isn’t that the truth?

It’s very tempting, sitting with this passage, to let my mind go straight to newness of life. Resurrection. Living in, with, and for God. The ultimate happily ever after.

But that’s not how the paschal mystery works. That’s not how it worked for Jesus, who after the hard work of daily modeling loving service and deep compassion, had to suffer and die, scorned and betrayed and abandoned. There is no skipping Gethsemane and the cross and the tomb on the way to Easter morning.

So why do I expect that I can? How can I fool myself into thinking that the paschal mystery works any differently for me than it did for Jesus? Luckily, Paul is here to keep me from that kind of delusion. Just as someday I will have to face whatever form my physical dying will take, every day I am called to die to sin. To shed that “old self” with her rationalizations and hypocrisies and a few outright lies. To turn away from thoughts and actions that divert my attention from God-who-is-Love. To allow my selfishness and self-centeredness to be nailed to the cross.

My aunt was so right. It’s the dying that’s hard.

Jesus, redeemer and companion, hear me. You have shown me the way to salvation; help me to follow it faithfully and honestly, especially when it demands things of me that I resist. Bring me to newness of life. In your name. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator,
   Center for Life and Learning

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