Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 (NRSV)
Chapter 11I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. Verse 2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? Verse 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Verse 30Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, Verse 31so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. Verse 32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.
Countless times I have told others about my great-grandparents immigrating from Norway, Sweden, and Germany. I guess I’m in good company with the Apostle Paul. But do our bloodlines matter? In Holy Baptism, our bloodlines fade and our waterlines bring us new life. “For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that God may be merciful to all.” There it is again this week—that word “all.”
In the early 1980’s, my wife and I moved from Minnesota to western Montana. One of the developmentally disabled adults with whom my wife worked had a singsong cadence as she talked. We asked, “Are you Scandinavian?” She replied in that lovely voice, “No, I’m a human being.”
Thankfully, according to Paul, the gifts from God are irrevocable, no matter our family tree. But at the same time we need to hear Paul’s challenge: the calling of God is also irrevocable.
Dear calling God, thank you for the saints who have gone before us. Send your Holy Spirit to me today, so I will find ways to love my neighbor, no matter their ancestry. Amen.