Family Ties

My birthday has come and gone, and it was made all the happier by my cousin, who sent a ginormous arrangement of flowers, called me to tell me she loves me, and mailed a beautiful card. She is what remains of my childhood family and her care and attention on my birthday was such a blessing. When you reach the point of your life when your parents and siblings are gone, your birthday can be a harsh reminder of those losses. You know cards won’t come, calls won’t be made, and there will be no immediate family sharing in the celebration of your birth. Then your cousin lovingly steps in and makes up for all those feelings of loss with her beautiful and generous gifts and reminds you of your family ties. How blessed am I!

In our scripture today, we see Paul making the same kind of family ties as he links himself with Jesus. He is proud to be called to be an apostle and relishes the fact that he has been set apart as one who is charged with delivering God’s good news.

Romans 1 (Common English Bible)

From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. 2-3 God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures.

Paul continues by connecting his family ties through the prophets, and then linked Jesus (and himself) to King David. Jesus was the fulfillment of David’s lineage, placing all of Jesus’ followers in line with Israel’s royalty.

His Son was descended from David. 

Having thus established earthly family ties, Paul reaches heavenward to establish ties to God. In this, we are reminded that Jesus was fully human AND fully divine. The power of the resurrection confirms Jesus’ place in the holy trinity.

He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Then, in typical Paul fashion, now that he has connected us to God through these various family ties, he charged us to accept our own appointment to be apostles, just as he had done:

Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles.

The assignment is clear. We are descended from royalty and have received a commission to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And there is no better time to do this than Advent. How many churches in your neighborhood are offering special worship services and events this month? Find one, and invite someone to go with you.

I think it was especially clever of Paul to make this kind of appeal to the proud citizens of Rome. He invited them to participate in a worldview that is bigger than even Rome itself, and reminded them that they are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people:

To those in Rome who are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So are you. You are dearly loved by God, and you are called to be his people. Go, and tell the world!

Family Love by Peggy Bryson

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