June 9, 2024

[GATHERING] Romans (wk 17) – Practice Gathering

Mariah Keener

For our final week in Romans, we take time to reflect on some of the themes we’ve been exploring since the Fall. We are reminded that sin and death is at work in the world around us and within us, but that there is something even more powerful at work in the world: liberation. And in a world where relationships are fracturing and fraying, the power of this gospel is that we have been reconciled to God and each other and that we are called into community and belonging with one another, in spite of the differences that might keep us apart.

We explore these themes through the practices of singing, reading, personal reflection, open floor, and Eucharist with excerpts from Romans. We would love for you to join us in these practices, so feel free to grab materials that help you in your personal practice. If you want to join us for Eucharist, make sure to have some form of cracker or bread and some form of juice or wine.

For the songs and readings from today, please scroll down.

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Oh How I Need You (Find You) by All Sons and Daughters

Open Space by the Housefires

Reading 1
Paul wrote a letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome, calling them “loved by God, called to be his holy people.” (1:7)

He wanted them to take seriously the power of sin and death, forces at work in the world and in our lives, tearing apart communities, waging war on God’s beloved people in the human family, and threatening the work of the gospel that had brought them together in the church. He described “wickedness, evil, greed and depravity; people full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice; gossips, slanderers, God-haters; the insolent, arrogant and boastful; people of no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” (1:29-31)

And just when you imagine the recipients of his letter looking down their noses at those other people in whom sin and death are at work, he confronts his audience directly. “You have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (2:1)

We don’t receive these words to shame ourselves, but we welcome a sober acknowledgement of the reality of sin and death – in our lives, in our community, and in the world at large. Paul’s letter is full of good news, and part of the good news is that we don’t have to pretend that we’re fine or the world is fine to receive it.

Kingdom Come by Common Hymnal

My World Needs You by Kirk Franklin

Reading 2
As seriously as Paul takes sin and death, he teaches that something even more powerful is at work in the world. Yes, he acknowledges the struggle: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (7:21-24) But he also celebrates the liberation that God has won for God’s people: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25)

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (6:5-11)

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (8:1)

Beautiful Things by Gungor

Open Floor

Beautiful Things/Graves into Gardens by Elevation

Reading 3
For Paul, the power of this gospel is not just that we have been reconciled to God, but that we have been reconciled to one another, called into community and belonging with one another, in spite of the differences that might keep us apart.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (12:9-16)

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (14:13)

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (14:19)

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (15:7)

Brother by Common Hymnal


Brother Reprise

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give us the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (15:5-6)

“May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (15:13)

“And now to him who is able to establish us in accordance with this gospel, the message Paul proclaims about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all might come to the obedience that comes from faith— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!” (16:25-27)

And may grace and peace be with you (and also with you)

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