Romans 1:1-7 (NRSV)
Chapter 1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, Verse 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, Verse 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh Verse 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, Verse 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, Verse 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, Verse 7To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In today’s reading we have jumped at least 700 years from Ahaz and Israel's woes to the Apostle Paul. He writes to the Christians at Rome and reminds them of his own pedigree as one set apart and called by God. But he also reminds the Romans that they are set apart because of what Christ has done for them. Christ does not call people into random tasks or empty rituals. Nor does he call people because of some kind of internal merit they may possess. Christ calls people into the specific actions of grace that reflect God's saving grace. Christ's presence on earth was and is the Shekinah — the glory of God that Israel so longed to see. Christ saves us from meaningless religion and oppressive culture. Paul reminds the Roman Christians that salvation includes the call to become a follower of Jesus Christ. We learn from Paul's guidance as well.
Thank you for blessing us and calling us to be yours, Lord Jesus Christ. You have made us your beloved no matter where we live. Amen.