The grace embrace
Romans 15: 14-21 (GNT)
14 My friends: I myself feel sure that you are full of goodness, that you have all knowledge, and that you are able to teach one another. 15 But in this letter I have been quite bold about certain subjects of which I have reminded you. I have been bold because of the privilege God has given me 16 of being a servant of Christ Jesus to work for the Gentiles. I serve like a priest in preaching the Good News from God, in order that the Gentiles may be an offering acceptable to God, dedicated to him by the Holy Spirit. 17 In union with Christ Jesus, then, I can be proud of my service for God. 18 I will be bold and speak only about what Christ has done through me to lead the Gentiles to obey God. He has done this by means of words and deeds, 19 by the power of miracles and wonders, and by the power of the Spirit of God. And so, in traveling all the way from Jerusalem to Illyricum, I have proclaimed fully the Good News about Christ. 20 My ambition has always been to proclaim the Good News in places where Christ has not been heard of, so as not to build on a foundation laid by someone else. 21 As the scripture says,
“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”
There is a wonderful hymn (Church Hymnary 4: 685) written by Shirley Erena Murray which sums up inclusion. It begins with the lines:
“For everyone born, a place at the table, for everyone born, clean water and bread,
a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing, for everyone born, a star overhead.”
And the final verse has the lines:
“For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be,
to work, to speak out, to witness and worship, for everyone born, the right to be free.”
Then the refrain: “And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.”
When I sing that song I am reminded of how many times Jesus shared meals with all sorts of people around tables, accepting them for who they were and bringing his love into their lives. It is an inclusive and all-embracing table that we sit around with Jesus.
Lord God, you have made us all in your image, you know us by name, and you love each person. Help us to break down the barriers and divisions we have created and see you in every person we encounter. May our lives bring you delight as we seek to be creators of justice and joy, by your grace and by the power of your Spirit working in us. Amen.