Sunday, February 28 2021
Lord, your summons echoes true
When you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
And never be the same.
In your company I'll go
Where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow
In you and you in me (The Summons).
Paul’s finest letter, in my opinion, is his letter to the Romans. Written at about 57 BCE, Paul writes to the church in Rome to establish them in the true Gospel. The theme of the book is the righteousness of God. Righteousness (dikaiosune in Greek) is given by the mercy of God through faith. In this week’s lessons, we observe that Abraham was given the free gift of righteousness long before God gave the law to Moses through the Ten Commandments. Abraham did not earn the righteousness of God through the law. Salvation comes through the mercy and love of God simply because we are God’s beloved. When we were baptized, we were sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.
God makes a covenant that “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (Genesis 17:7).
We were all created in God’s likeness and image. We are called to move and live and grow, me in you and you in me. We need to have faith in God’s ability to call us into relationship. God’s grace is unearned. We cannot earn salvation through any work of our own. All of us have committed sins, but because God loves us, God gave Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, to die on a cross for our sins. Many people worry about sins that we have committed. Those sins were washed away like the ocean washes away a sand castle at high tide. We are asked to repent or turn to God in Lent.
Our response to the love, mercy, and grace of God is to give God praise, develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and to love our neighbor. A perfect example of that was last week’s Gospel Concert. Our relationship with St. Augustine’s has created a bond that is palpable. Several members messaged me that they cried as the youth sang last Sunday. The music went beyond this temporal world, through the bones and muscles in our bodies, and into our souls. The deep faith of our congregation meets the deep faith of St. Augustine’s and creates a bond much stronger than our cultural norms that would divide us.
In today’s Gospel Jesus asks, “Who do they say I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:27-27). The Messiah by definition is the Savior of the people. Christian’s believe that Christ is the anointed Messiah, who came to save us. I ask you to put your trust in God. Have faith that your sins are forgiven and respond by listening to God, loving God and loving your neighbor. The Hebrew word Shema means to listen, but also to obey God’s will for our lives. We are children of Abraham because he modeled what Shema means. Shema is that bond that we create through racial reconciliation.
In Christ’s love,