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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Today’s Reading | Romans 12:9–21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NRSV)

These scripture verses provide a succinct description of how to be a Christian. The New Revised Standard Version Bible gives this passage the heading: “Marks of the True Christian.” Clearly what signifies a true Christian is not what one believes but whether and how one loves others and serves God. It is about much more than “be nice”; we are held to a high bar in our response to evil, hatred, and enemies. Rather than repay evil for evil, we are to end any cycle of retaliation or revenge by reversing the energy: “bless those who persecute you” and “overcome evil with good.”

There is a form of prayer called “Examen of Conscience.” Through that prayer, you are invited to review your past twenty-four hours and name things for which you are grateful. Then you reflect on where you may have been out of sync with God and God’s ways. You then give God thanks and praise, as well as confess where you need forgiveness and help. Someone said, “If you want to grow spiritually, don’t do anything. Just notice.” Noticing where we are loving and failing to love opens the door for God to reshape us. Each day you may pray by reflecting on one or more of these paired questions:

Was I inauthentic with anyone? How did I express mutual love and live peaceably with others?

Did I show hospitality to strangers, contribute to the needs of others, or serve the lowly? Where did I rejoice or weep with others or fail to do so?

Was I arrogant or haughty? Where did I choose to take the high road?

Gracious God, I want to live in harmony, rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, and persevere in prayer. Deepen my love for you and others. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor

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