Reader: “I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God,”
Response: “and are called to be his own holy people.”
Scripture: Romans 1:1-7
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son.
In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line,
and he was shown to be the Son of God
when he was raised from the dead
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Reader: The word of the Lord
Response: Thanks be to God.
What is your purpose in life? Why are you on earth? To enjoy life? Live comfortably? Stay healthy? Make enough money to retire? Advance in your occupation? Find someone to love? Get married? Have children? Have a great career? It’s Lent, a time to reflect on how life is going in relation to our journey with Jesus on his way to the cross, namely living and dying to self day by day. In the words of Irenaeus (130-202 AD) “The Son of God became what we are, that we might become what He is.” In his opening statement, Paul makes clear to the Romans his calling by God and purpose in life, namely that of preaching the gospel as a servant of Christ. He then quotes what some scholars believe may have been a hymn or creed of the early church. The parallel structure of the Greek writing is decidedly different from the rest of this letter as noted above. Paul had not started a church in Rome at this point and actually did not know the people he was writing to so he laid out the gospel in his salutation. I want to focus a bit on the very last part of this passage: “you who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people.” As followers of Christ, we are called to be a holy people. P.T. Forsyth commented, “The miracle of the Incarnation is not [merely] the Word made flesh, but the Holy made sin for us.” Part of the journey of Lent is that we might grow in holiness, not only individually but corporately as the body of Christ. Christianity is not “Jesus and me.” We are his Body, the Church universal through the ages. Just as we do not become more humble by our human efforts to become humble, we cannot become more holy by trying to be holy. On a scale of 1-10, where would you rank yourself on humility? Made my point! It is only when we are filled with the mind of Christ living in us that true humility and holiness flourish. We are all called to be his holy people. Absorb him in his word each day and we will increasingly “become what he is.”
Music: “Holy, Holy, Holy” Audrey Assad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgHrNNM23p8
God, my God, I am all weakness, but Thou art my Strength; I am ever anew bowed down by any trial, but Thou canst and willest to lift me up. Let me not fail, O God my Strength; let me not be discouraged, O God, my Hope. Draw me each day, if it be but a little nearer unto Thee; make me, each day, if it be but a little less unlike Thee; let me do or bear each day something, for love of Thee, whereby I may be fitter for Thee. Let no day pass without my having done something pleasing unto Thee. Thus alone would I live, that I may live more unto Thee, becoming more like unto Thee; thus would I die, longing to love thee more. Amen.
―Edward Pusey, 1800-1882, Prayers Ancient and Modern, p.88.