By David Baumann
A Reading from Romans 10:14-21
14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” 16 But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have:
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth
and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will use those who are not a nation to make you jealous;
with a foolish nation I will provoke you.”
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
Fifty years ago, a movement called The Jesus People developed a sign: pointing up to the sky with one finger, while saying, “One Way, JC.” Not long after that, there was a popular bumper sticker campaign with the words, “I Found It.” To this day, every now and then, you can see someone in the stands at a football game holding up a sign that says, “John 3:16.” There are billboards in major cities that proclaim “Jesus Saves” in big, plain, capital letters. On country roads there are small signs in front of shops and homes that say something like, “Put your trust in Jesus.”
Whatever you feel or think about these messages or their intentions, it’s true that those who show these signs and symbols are trying to say the most important thing in the world in as few words as possible. And many are doing so because they themselves know the truth, peace, and hope of a life dedicated to Jesus, and they love their neighbors in the whole world enough to want everyone to know that same joy.
And it’s not just super-evangelicals and fundamentalists who boil the gospel down to a single strong statement; the Orthodox have the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It is what Paul is writing about in today’s lesson, the conclusion to the knotty teaching of this past week. “Their voice has gone out into all the earth”: Paul teaches that there were those who found God even when they were not seeking him; and there were those allegedly godly people who were “disobedient and obstinate,” to whom God had held out his hands without result. Even though “that was then” and “this is now,” it’s still true. So-called secular culture? Never mind. There are always those with “beautiful feet” who “bring good news.”
David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Maper – The Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas