St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri
Thursday, August 31, 2023

The second reading: Romans 12:9-21

Those are the words that began last week’s reading, in contemporary language, and they are the lead-in to what Paul has to say next. It’s a pretty great passage. And I notice that while conservatives are often unwilling to listen to Jesus’ words, but prefer their version of the Old Testament Law – liberals likely to ignore the hard Jesus words, too – and both try hard to spiritualize and diminish the day-to-day authority of these Pauline admonitions.
They cut straight across the grain – asking of us far more than we are willing to do, especially under pressure, in difficult or controversial circumstances and situations, whether political, ecclesiastical, social or interpersonal. At least let’s be honest. If we aren’t interested in this kind of Christianity, let’s say so.(The gospel for Sunday isn’t any help, by the way, as it urges us to remember Jesus when he tells us that if we want to be his followers potential believers will need to “deny themselves.”)

Romans 12:9-21
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. “No.” If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. For by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.



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