By Michael Smith
A Reading from Romans 15:25-33
25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints, 26 for Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them, for if the gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. 28 So, when I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain, 29 and I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
30 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.
In today’s epistle lesson, Paul refers to a monetary collection he has been gathering from among Gentile churches for the relief of the poor among Jewish Christians in Jerusalem: “I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.”
In my imagination, I can hear the protests among the Gentile churches: “Why don’t we take care of our own poor first? Doesn’t charity begin at home?” But Paul is resolute in this ministry. Fellow Christians are suffering and in need due to a famine in Jerusalem. Since Gentile Christians have shared in the spiritual blessings of the Jews, it is an appropriate response for them to share their material blessings as an act of gratitude. After all, we are one in Christ despite cultural differences.
One of the collects for mission at Morning Prayer begins: “O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near” (BCP 100). As Christians, our concern and acts of generosity and service extend beyond “those who are near” to “those who are far off.” Today, make a financial gift to alleviate the suffering of someone in your local community and an offering to help someone on the other side of the globe.
“The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.”
Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for 15 years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Maseno West – The Anglican Church of Kenya
Episcopal Church in Connecticut