August 3, 2018

Romans 16 Day

A recent lectionary reading, Romans 16:1-16, got me thinking...

In this passage, Paul commends to the church in Rome a long list of friends in Christ. They are women and men whose faith and service Paul has witnessed, experienced, and sometimes by which he benefited.

Priscilla and Aquila “risked their lives” for Paul. He writes that he and “all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.”

Epenetus was “ the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.” Andronicus and Junias were in prison with Paul. Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis, are all praised for their “very hard work” for Christ and the church. The mother of Rufus was like a mother to Paul.

Greet them, Paul urges. Welcome, accept, value them as fellow believers.

Paul also sends to Rome greetings from those serving with him in his ministry. Gaius, gifted with hospitality, sends greetings. Even Corinth’s Director of Public Works, Erastus, sends greetings.

What a joyful litany of gratitude. It got me thinking about the folks in my faith community - those who are moms or dads to many, those who work very hard in service at the altar, in the nursery, in the office, in the choir, and those who live their faith in service beyond our church walls, serving the poor, serving us all in local government, or shining as examples of Christ’s love.

Maybe the liturgical year should include a Romans 16 Day, on which we celebrate what we appreciate about each other. On second thought, us goal-oriented Americans might turn that into an awards ceremony for Saint of the Year.

There’s no competition involved in greeting each other in ways that show our appreciation and gratitude for one another. Every day can be Romans 16 Day, when we make it a point to smile, commend, accept and appreciate - as opposed to avoiding, eye rolling, gossiping or worse.

Let us intentionally be examples of the love and grace of Christ Jesus to each other, to newcomers, and to our brothers and sisters in Christ in other faith traditions.