Romans 5:1-8 (NRSV)
5Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous personthough perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
The American folk hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This” begins with the plaintive phrase, “What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul!” Although the apostle Paul is known for making an argument for faith, as if he were in a court of law, his message finally boils down to those words: “What wondrous love is this.”
Depending upon how long each of us has lived, we have witnessed that wondrous love of someone sacrificing self-interest for the sake of others. It might have been shown a parent or grandparent fighting in World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or some other hot spot in the world. Most recently we think of those on the front lines fighting COVID-19. What wondrous love is being shown by first responders and health care workers.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul was focusing on the wondrous love he had experienced in the life and death of Jesus. This too is where that ultimate love is focused for us—
as we kneel at the cross, celebrate at the open tomb, or sing together “Amazing Grace.”
We come to you this day mindful of those who protect us in so many ways. We thank you that their hands are truly your hands, their feet, your feet, their love your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.