June 29, 2008
Psalm 13 (UMH 746) A Psalm of lament.
Romans 6:12-23 When we are baptized, buried, and raised with Christ by water and the Holy Spirit, we are given not just a new life, but a new master, no longer sin (which leads to death), but God and righteousness (which leads to life). Paul recognizes that the power of sin is still active in the world of the believers, so that Christians are confronted with the real peril of falling back into the submission to sin that will result in the Christians' following the baser instincts of human existence rather than God's will and leadership. In one sense Paul is telling the Romans that God has already rescued the Christians out of the mud and cleaned them off through the bath of baptism, so that Paul admonishes these same believers to stay out of the mud, to resist any subsequent urge to return to the mud-bath from which they have already been rescued. the positive dimension of Paul's teaching—that having been "brought from death to life," the Christians have the opportunity to give themselves to God and to live according to God's righteousness, i.e., God's will, God's power, God's action in the world for salvation, God's purposes. Verses 17-18 contrast the conditions of being either "slaves of sin" or "slaves of righteousness." In this same vein, the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan summarized the matter in a song entitled, "Gotta Serve Somebody"—part of which goes, "You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed,"You're gonna have to serve somebody."Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord"But you're gonna have to serve somebody."
Either we are baptized, and live that out or we are not. Either we live in the power of the Holy Spirit and the resurrection or we don’t.
The slave language is a little out of date, but the serve language is not although not all people want to hear the word serve. How is your congregation keeping their baptismal vows? What kind of accountability is there to be able to do that? May you can introduce the new part of the vow that was voted on at General Conference.
Matthew 10:40-42 expect, look for, and bless those who will offer welcome. is the end of a larger instructional passage. Finally after a lengthy exhortation on the opposition they could expect to receive, they received the words about hospitality found in Matthew 10:40: Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. In other words, those who welcomed them were also welcoming God. 10:42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." As with the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31-46), it does not matter who receives care. What matters is the care that is offered. I read where this had to do with all the visiting preachers that were in the early church. Maybe it has to do with then all of us who are itinerant in our ministry. But then who have we offered the cup of cold water to? How are we offering the cold water? What is the cup of cold water? How are we welcoming? How are we not? How do we go beyond the handshake or passing the peace to helping people feel welcome in our church? Where are we welcoming? Maybe Lovett Weems’ question of “when we gather on Sunday Morning to worship, whose missing” fits here.