Live in Harmony (Romans 12:14-21)

Last Sunday we had the delight of being able to gather around the table again.  We opened with prayer.  And then we began to check-in with each other.  We tried to identify the part of the body that we are, and we found that to be challenging.  Challenging in multiple ways, because so many of us do so many different types of things — what one part could we be?  Challenging because some of the body parts that we think we are sound too showy — as though we were being proud.  Challenging because for many it is very hard to see or to consider that indeed God has gifted and shaped us in certain ways (so it’s a lot easier for someone else to see us and notice our shape rather than for us to be able to think soberly about what God has gifted us with!).  Challenging because are we talking about gifts, about skills, about talent — and is it just in a spiritual way, just something we do in the church — or maybe something else?  So challenging to think about where we fit and how we work.  And yet, even in the midst of struggle we were able to identify some parts of the body that we are; hands, the bottom of feet, the heart, the ear, a finger (index), the mouth, and the eye.  Likely, not all the body parts referenced what someone else would have imagined that part of the body to do; an index finger that captures the call on one to teach, a mouth to speak for issues of justice; a part of the mind to remind people of their faith; an eye to represent the gift of empathy to feel to the point of deeply seeing into the soul of another.

This idea of who we are, of how we are shaped, of what gifts we have is not an easy one.  Many pondered often about the question, engaging spouses who might not be present around the table in their consideration of the question.  Some shared insights outside of the time we were gathered together.  There was reflection of how gifts might work in allowing us to live into the part of the body that we are, how we might fully live into the design that God has for us to fill, and the honesty as to how God will use those of us who are willing (regardless of what our gifts/shape are!), as well as how being gifted or shaped does not mean that we don’t need to continue to develop said gifts/talents — nor does wanting/working hard on developing skills mean we can (on our own) anoint ourselves to do the work (or have the gift(s)) we desire most.

And something important was named.  Love.  That Love is the greatest gift.  That all of us — as we are shaped and gifted, all of us as different members of the body are called to love, expected to love.  And love is hard, and perhaps a word that has lost meaning in some sense (for many) and a word that we struggle to understand and know — but we are to love, to share love, to be lovers — lovers of God and lovers of each other.  Love is the greatest gift.  Love is offered to all.  And in my opinion, because of Christ we can all be great lovers — we each moment of each day are invited to grow in how we can love well (amen!) — because God is love, and God is patient, and God is full of grace!

So we continued in Romans, and read verses 14-21:

 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And we quickly named our homework, to consider Romans 12:16a & 18.  To “Live in harmony with one another” and, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”  Everyone was THRILLED for this assignment, as of course this is exactly what we do all the days of our lives, right?  So for the next 2 weeks (now a little more than a week more) we will be living in harmony and peaceably with one another.  So — with some laughter we turned to prayer to close another time of gathering together — a time of seeking to hear from God together through scripture and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Y’all today, in our context and moment in time, think about the possible implications of living in this way, in harmony and peacefully as much as it depends on us with each other.  What a gift we could be offering and opening together…

In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater  

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