Christian Comments, July 2017

As I write, in our daily Morning Prayer we are coming to the end of St Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have enjoyed reading it. I like the letter a great deal. One reason I think I like it so much is because Romans is a letter – Paul writes to the Church in Rome and to us, opening his heart. He is talking to communities that need his help and guidance – they may not have sought his opinion, but St Paul was not shy. The letter, whilst packed with theological insight (some more controversial to the modern ear than others), is still nevertheless not a great tome of academic exhortation that has been formulated over months or years. Paul is responding to problems that are immediate and relevant to the immediate situation of his audience. And responding theologically.
This is rather a comfort to me, because over the last few weeks it has felt as though I have only had enough time to respond to need – seeking the best in every situation, yes – but just having a nagging feeling I’ve been a little lightweight. There is a list of priorities that all contend for my attention – a triage of priorities dropping off the response list as more pressing things arise.
Then, a couple of weeks ago it all come to head and I needed to step up – a moment where all my energies where required to be focused and attentive. What was important and what wasn’t became very clear. That day, at Morning Prayer, the set New Testament reading was Romans 12.9 onwards. It strongly reminded me so very much of the wonderful Benediction, based on 1 Thessalonians 5.13-21, which I have used at the ends of many services over the years – the Benediction always inspires me and offers me great hope.
Whilst the letter to the Romans can be seen as rather demanding, having within it some sections that we in the modern Church have yet to reconcile, this Blessing gives us a crystal-clear insight how we are to behave in the world, what we are to do for others and what we are to believe, loving and serving the Lord. I think this is how each of us, all people, should live. It is a blessing, but it is also a demand. It is mission statement to the world.
What St Paul says can be drawn from the Romans & the Thessalonians passages…..
‘Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage, holdfast to that which is good, render to no-one evil for evil, strengthen the faint hearted; support the weak, help the afflicted – honour all people. Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.’
For me the words could not have come at a better time. Can you imagine a world, a Church, that actually did this? If I ever had a personal statement of faith – here it is, and I commend it to you.