Monday, December 6, 2010

A Roman Holiday

Dreaming is the deepest rest we get at night, or if you're like me, it's the deepest rest we get early in the morning before awakening. I was privileged to be with a unique group earlier, one of whose members was proud to have awakened at the ungodly early hour of 9:00. She usually sleeps much later, apparently. (We met at 10:30 and I was barely out of the shower and dried, so no judgments here. But that's just me.)

Depending on stage of life we're probably all pretty different when it comes to rising time and bed time. A friend of mine who has four children has had to teach them that they can stay in their beds until Mommy gets up at 6:00 when the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 6. College age dictates another strategy altogether depending on when one's first class convenes.

It's difficult to keep from judging others for their habits of rising and lying down, especially those of us whose habits were formed in the agrarian traditions once associated with cow milking and field working. We know only dark o'clock as a rising time. So it's possible to engage in dreaming anytime, and for some of us, anywhere.

Paul was a dreamer, but also one of the toughest believers and hardest workers who ever lived. Most of us would never have heard of Jesus or seen a Bible had it not been for his indefatigable evangelism. Paul stayed up all night sometimes singing hymns, especially if he was in jail. Here's one he liked; why not pray it with him:

Prayer: " “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”

10 Again, it says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”

12 And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”

During the week of the Shepherd's candle it's great to think of those shepherds who worked hard, like Paul, to bring the light of God in Christ to us. The above scripture comes to us from Romans, Paul's letter to the church in Rome. Paul may have written it dreaming of the day when all within the Empire of Rome could be ruled by the descendant of Jesse and David.

Paul envisioned an ever-widening understanding of the gospel unlimited by tribe or territory. He wrote as one who dreamed of times when those who did not have the opportunity to see Jesus for himself would read and understand. He wrote boldly, so that we may be emboldened.

Romans 15:14-21 (New International Version, ©2010)

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written:

“Those who were not told about him will see,
and those who have not heard will understand.”

Think back for a moment to those whose work provided a foundation for your present faith. Was it a grandparent? A Sunday school teacher whose name is now forgotten to all but God? Is it a friend who invited you to accompany them to church one Christmas in the distant past of your life?

Prayer: Quietly thank God for bringing this person into your life. If you were to dedicate a hymn or a Christmas song just for them, what would it be?

(This is never a competition, but just for fun, hum the hymn or carol randomly today. For extra credit, notice whether you capture any weird looks from those around you. Don't tell them how much fun this is. Just kidding, the only extra credit is what you give yourself- just for making yourself smile!)

For further reading today,

Psalm 21

Isaiah 41:14-20

Romans 15:14-21


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