Romans Chapters 11 and 12 { or why St Paul is ok sometimes}

 

Let me preface this article by stating that I belong to the Best Wednesday Morning Bible Study ever!  No, I am NOT kidding, I love these people. It is wonderful to walk into a parish hall and be greeted with genuine love— especially since this Bible Study occurs at my ” Wednesday Church”.

Our group is slogging through St Paul’s letter to the Romans. I say ” slogging” because I’ve admitted many times to having qualms about some of St Paul’s ideas { Women shouldn’t speak in church—- REALLY??} Anyway, in light of what happened this weekend, I found great comfort in St Paul’s Letter to the early Christians in Rome.

Paul’s metaphor of the Body of Christ as an olive tree is beautiful. Furthermore, he says that those of us ” gentiles”  who are grafted onto Christ’s Body are blessed. he also admonishes those who already tied the law. { back then, the Jewish people, but this can apply to Christians who grew up in church from infancy.

I am a child of a Jewish Mother and an Irish Catholic father. Although what little religious instruction I had while growing up was from Christianity; I really wasn’t ” grafted” until my baptism at age 20.  Because I was ” grafted” I feel grateful to be a Christian; and strive to do my best to live the kind of life that St Paul describes in chapter 12 of Romans. Christ makes no difference in His followers who were both baptized as infants and those of us who came to know Christ on our own.

Romans 12 describes a ” tall order ‘ for we people of faith. St Pauk writes a litany of Christian virtues and expectations that can make even we more seasoned Christ-followers blanche.

Check it out:

“9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 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; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 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.” 20 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.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”

Ouch. As I said, that is one tall order for us to follow.

St Paul is giving us a guidebook for basic Christian behavior. To be honest, I have failed miserably at all of these instructions. But, as a grafted sister in Christ’s family, I know that each day I get a chance to begin anew. Especially now in this current political scene; I find it challenging { to say the least} to even follow one of these commands.  Yet especially after this weekend, we are called by Jesus { via St Paul} to not overcome evil for evil, but to overcome evil for good.

How do we do this, I ask myself every day. How do we sow love rather than hatred? Each of us is gifted by God with certain talents and abilities. I believe that St Paul is saying earlier in this passage that we must call ourselves to action; or as a friend of mine said ” become boots-on-the-ground Christians”

Look at how he introduces this chapter:

1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned”

To me, being a living sacrifice means using my gifts, skills and interests to further God’s kingdom in the here and now. I read this passage as a personal , parent-like scolding from God. God is saying to me: “Sarah Beth, get out of your head and off your tush and go into the world and DO SOMETHING.” 

I shall. God needs me, and God also needs you.

Be the Church in the world.

In the Name of  the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,  Amen.

 

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No Child from my womb yet still a ” Mother”

“Being a woman is more than a mother. It’s being the person God calls us to be bringing love into the world. I have moments of mothering, and I thank Mother God that I can fill that space from time to time” ~Rev Michelle Torigan, Pastor in the United Church of Christ.  { she is one of my favorite bloggers as of late}

Motherhood is celebrated in society, and it should be. All humans have a mother. But the problem in modern Christian American society is when only women who have given birth to human babies are celebrated. Those of us who either choose not to give birth, have struggled with infertility and/or pregnancy loss or have been orphaned early in life feel left out.

As a partnered yet childless woman I feel like many in my southern, politically conservative community look down upon me because I am childless and childfree. I am no longer letting these women project their insecurities about their own femininity and self-worth onto me. 

I am not someone to be pitied.

Like Reverend Torigan, there was a point in my life when all I wanted was to settle down and have a baby  {or two or three} As my health precluded my ever becoming a biological mother, I hoped to settle down with someone and adopt a child. After all, as a woman, isn’t that what I am supposed to do: become a mother ?

Contrary to what Hallmark leads people to believe each May, the answer is no.

On this Feast Day of The Assumption of the Blessed Mother, I would like to give thank to woman who mother. This includes women who are teachers, clergy, mentors to someone else’s child, women who work as daycare providers, nannies or private babysitters. Not to mention the women who serve as doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who treat children’s’ health issues. Included in this ” Unbiological Mommies Club” are Godmothers and we child-free aunts { both roles I fill}

I am at the point in my life where I am satisfied with what I have: a wonderful man, a dog, TWO awesome parish families, fulfilling volunteer work, many true friends  and a loving extended family. Sure, I would have loved to have borne a child, but I find ways to nurture others.

At the age of ” over 40″ and with God’s help in the form of many women who ” mother ” me in faith, I am growing into the women I was originally created to be. It is my hope and prayer that I will continue the long tradition of women ” mothering other younger disciples of our Lord.

 

In the Name of the Creator, Redeemer , and Sustainer.