Though there will be times when we recognize our own insignificance, today’s words from Romans remind us that in God’s eyes we are important. Paul wrote this letter to the followers of Christ in Rome at a time when Christians were scorned and often persecuted. Jesus’ followers at that time may well have been marginalized social outcasts. Paul offers encouragement by reminding his readers that those who allow their lives to be shaped by God’s Spirit are children of God. He goes further by saying they are also heirs of God. Inheritance customs and laws are often very prescriptive, with matters of legitimacy and illegitimacy coming into play. So to be heirs of God is to be legitimate in important and significant ways. Paul is saying to people who are outcasts that they are valuable and worthy.
I wonder if Paul’s first readers felt a bit like I did when, in sixth grade during physical education, we were playing kickball and for the first and only time ever I was not the last person picked for a sports team. To this day, I remember the team captain who picked me third or fourth. I remember how accepted I felt. I remember feeling like I belonged. On the surface, this may seem a trivial example. And yet here I am more than four decades later, and I still remember. A sense of belonging is significant!
When do you experience a feeling of belonging? How can you help others experience belonging? How does a sense of belonging empower you to act with courage?
Incidentally, the game where I was not picked last was also the one and only time in my life that—through a series of fumbles and errors—I got a home run in a kickball game.
Holy One, grant that your Spirit may shape our words and deeds. Give us courage as your heirs to work for justice and peace. Amen.
This Sunday we will celebrate the Trinity, the Christian belief that God is one being and exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christian theologians point out that there are many references to this doctrine in the Bible. In Isaiah, the voice of the Lord asks, “Who will go for us?” not, “Who will go for me?” In Romans, Paul speaks of all three persons of the Trinity: We pray to the Father through the Spirit because of the work of the Son. Jesus also speaks to Nicodemus about the role of all three persons of the Trinity. This may not be the simplest of Christian doctrines, but it is foundational because it explains the nature of God and God’s work throughout human history.
Read Isaiah 6:1-8. Can you recall a time when you said to God, “Here I am; send me”? What prompted you? What helped you feel empowered to serve?
Read Psalm 29. As you read about the power of the Lord’s voice, do you find yourself frightened or drawn in? How approachable is God to you?
Read Romans 8:12-17. When has fear controlled you? How does being led by God’s Spirit free you from fear?
Read John 3:1-17. How has your life been reshaped by the Spirit? How did sins and failings manifest in the new creation?
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