Sorry about the cold last Sunday. Still learning about the building’s reaction to crazy Texas weather. So our conversation was brief, but good.
I shared a little (maybe a lot) about the context of Romans. Paul is often read through the eyes of previous interpreters and, in our contemporary context, Romans is often the source of our ideas about what it means to be “saved,” the how and the why. Every time I read Romans, I encounter one of those verses that would seem to tell us that Jesus died because I am awful, because of something I did or said, because I’m just rotten to the core. I read Romans and see that Jesus was a sacrifice made for my rottenness, that Jesus stood in my place for what I deserved. Even after all the study I have done, I still fall into that reading. However, there are other readings.
The Jewish Christians who started the Roman church had been exiled and now returned to find a church filled with Gentile Christians. As you might imagine, there is tension. Paul is writing to address that tension, to unify the church so that they might also unite with him in his proposed mission to Spain. Thus, it is not a treatise on how and why we might be saved. Rather, Paul cites the faithfulness that both groups have, the trust in God’s promise that is more foundational than law or conversion or ethnicity or history. Specifically, it is trust in God’s promise that life can come out of death, which was revealed in the death and resurrection of Christ. Most importantly, the Roman Christians have the opportunity to make that promise come true by being new life for one another. The struggle and suffering of exile and persecution can be redeemed if they choose to live into that promise, to hold fast to one another in a difficult time.
It is the same in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus tells us that following him means to take up one’s cross. If the cross of Jesus was the one cross, if the death of Jesus was the singular event to set things right, why follow him at all? What is left to be done? Why are there still crosses to bear? While Paul uses the language of sacrificial atonement, he does not develop the idea, but instead returns over and over again to the idea of participation, of unity in Christ. We live into the suffering and death of Christ so that we and our world might be transformed into a new life of love, peace, and justice. Jesus did not carry that cross so that we wouldn’t have to; he carried it so that we would know the Way.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we continue to discuss the meaning of the suffering and death of Jesus in this Lenten season. This week, we will discuss the foolish ways of the world and the wisdom of the cross (1 Corinthians 1.18-25) informed by Jesus’ cleansing of the temple as depicted in John 2.13-22. I figured out how to use the heater.
Grace & Peace,
The workday didn’t happen because it was freezing in the building. My bad. However, Mikal Beth got some more painting done this week (thank you!) and I did some odds and ends. If you’d like to do some work on the building, check out our Google doc task list. It is fully editable, so feel free to add on if you see something that needs to be done. No shenanigans!
Fred and Ashley got a lot of stuff for the kitchen (big thanks!), but we still need some stuff from our registry. We welcome any contributions!
Finally, we have studios to rent. If you know someone who wants a small studio or office, send them our way. They are small, about 80sf, but enough room for a desk or wall space for painting. We’ll try to accommodate people as best we can. We’re looking for $200/mo in rent.