Learning from Our Rome

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We approach God’s Word and pray that the Holy Spirit, will open our lives to encounter the Living Christ. Join me in a moment of prayer.

Lord of heaven and earth, You guide all nations and peoples. As we hear your Holy Word, reveal yourself to those who have deep faith and those who are struggling to believe. Open our hearts and minds to receive your blessing for our lives to guide as we follow Christ Jesus our Lord who remains all powerful for ordinary people in their everyday lives. Reveal your love for us so that we may reflect your love and your glory. I Christ’s precious name, we pray. Amen.

 

THE FIRST SCRIPTURE     Psalm 124                     Thanksgiving for Israel’s Deliverance               A Song of Ascents. Of David.

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—let Israel now say—

if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,

then they would have swallowed us up alive,when their anger was kindled against us;

then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;

the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

 

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN#504       (verse1 and refrain)        “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”

 

SCRIPTURE                                                  Romans 15:7-13                                                                     The Gospel for Jews and Gentiles Alike

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. or I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”;

and again he says,

                   “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;

and again,

                 “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 

and again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.”

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

THE SERMON           “Learning from Our Rome”

Historians attribute Aurelius Ambrose with the Latin phrase “si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sicut ibi” translated ‎(“if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”) Commonly, we reduce it to “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” Roughly meaning, 1) behave as those around do, 2) conform to the larger society, and 3) respect the beliefs and practices of a local culture. St. Ambrose the Bishop of Milan, in the 4th Century influenced the formation of the Christian Church and the theology of Augustine who inspired John Calvin.

The Apostle Paul earlier wrote to the church in Rome, connecting people of various backgrounds. In the name of Christ, become a servant of both Jews and Gentiles. As Christians, welcome one another, but in contrast to the Roman ideology, we behave as Christ teaches us. We conform not to the standards of the world, but Godly character reflecting the commandments of holiness. We respect the beliefs and practices of others, while continually maintaining our responsibility to hold our Christian beliefs and practices as our guide.

I watched the influence of the current Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis greet Americans in various cities and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the conference of Bishops and the members of Congress. While not Jew and Gentile, but Democratic and Republican. VP Biden and Speaker of the House, both share a Roman Catholic faith, sitting behind the human leader of their denomination. They may not share many ideological beliefs, but the core Christian doctrine of following Jesus for the glory of God. The Pope encouraged politicians to make a difference social, financial and humanitarian issues. We should view all people as persons, “seeing their faces and listening to their stories.”

The root of Jesse, Jesus came into our world and connected with people. Jesus saw people, listened to their stories, and demonstrated God’s compassion and love. Jesus came to bring people of various backgrounds humbly to a common center of faith. The Lord is on our side, when we walk in the ways of God and see people, their problems, and do something as an act of faith. Christians reach out with God’s love to people both believers and non-believers. When those outside a community of faith, need to welcome them and treat them with loving kindness.

We believe the Creator of Heaven and Earth entered human form to make a difference. As a human being, Jesus behaved as a person with feelings, emotions, and needs. Jesus taught us to behave in a godly way caring for the least of these our brethren. We meet people with dignity and genuine concern. We conform our Christian community to extend the family of God to friend and stranger. We seek to build up the body of Christ and renew the face of the earth with God’s love. We respect the beliefs and practices of others, while holding strong to our faith. Pope Francis, asked God to bless the crowd and any non-believers or people who perhaps cannot pray "to send good wishes my way."

As Christ followers, Jesus calls us to glorify God with our thought, word, and deeds. We reflect God’s glory to those around us in our culture and community, when we behave, conform, and respect others as Jesus did. In our Rome, the city around us, we reach out to members and others like Jesus who calls us to conform our lives to God’s commandments, and respect others with spiritual love that treats all people with dignity and compassion. TGBTG. Amen.

 

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