Archive for April 16th, 2022

Romans: Salvation at Last

Holy Saturday, April 16, 2022 

We have traveled through the closing chapters of Jeremiah’s prophecy and we have examined his words of wisdom and patience. God’s plan happens in God’s time at God’s pace. We have probed history and seen how God’s grace and providence turn all harm into good. The Spirit’s love is inscrutable and makes all things possible. We have journeyed from despair to hope, from hate to love. Jesus’ power knows no limit, plumbs all depths, reaches all heights.

The awful tragedy of Jesus’ crucifixion has taken place and today we shelter and wait for the promised hope of resurrection and redemption. Today we pause to consider Paul’s letter to the Romans. We pause to consider our own faith.

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

Paul knew this well as he was a student of scripture and he understood the prophecy of Daniel: The faithful do not need to fight; they only need refuse to allow anything to separate them from God.  He met and knew the risen Jesus; he saw who he is: The Son of Man whose arrival was predicted by Daniel.

Paul also knew Psalm 27 which speaks to us of the freedom from fear, the power of the Holy One which protects each and all from the forces of darkness: The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; before whom shall I shrink?  When evil-doers draw near to devour my flesh, it is they, my enemies and foes, who stumble and fall . . . Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.  Hope in the Lord!

Admitting that this letter might be used to argue for anti-semitism and homophobia, we might better see that Paul is calling us to faithfulness, righteousness and reconciliation.  Homosexuality was feared in the ancient world as it was seen as behavior outside of God’s call to reproduce.  If Paul were among us today with our knowledge of science and how our sexuality is determined, he would likely see fear of this group of people as one more divide to be crossed.  We can also read commentary that blames this letter for fomenting anger against the Jewish people.  Today, scholars are re-thinking these old opinions to put Romans in its original light: an explanation to gentiles of how the Jesus movement was not pure Judaism and how it had, in fact, been rejected by many Jewish people as a sect of their own religious practices.

This letter, therefore, is important because it tells us this: We are created to worship God. To this we must be faithful. In this we are saved. Through this we come to union with all creation. Paul speaks about resolving internal conflicts and sensitivity to other cultures (chapters 13-15). He writes of God’s providence and love (chapter 8). He tells us of our salvation (chapters 3-5).

If we are asked to point to one Book in scripture which tells us what faith is, how it operates, and why it is important, we might look to Romans.  When doubt comes calling at the door, we would do well to pick up the words which begin this reflection . . . and read them carefully; that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. God loves us this much. This we must believe.

Paul writes to the Romans and he writes to us. As we wait for the promise and joy of Easter that this evening’s vigil brings, we might do well to spend time with this letter today.

Image from: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/salvation/can-a-christian-lose-salvation.html

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