Romans 13:8-14 (NRSV)
8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet"; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.” We’re all familiar with the warning we received as children to be good, or Santa might not come! Sometimes, the commandments feel like warnings to be good, or else! The apostle Paul does have some urgency here, instructing believers to wake up and be ready, because he saw the end of the world to be coming suddenly and soon. It’s almost 2000 years later, and we are still here. So now we might hear these words as less of a warning “or else,” and more of a call to create the best kind of community. All of the commandments are wrapped up and held aloft by the fundamental call to love your neighbor as yourself. Salvation has already arrived and we have already received that gift from God! So now we are called to live in community with our siblings in Christ—and the best kind of community is one that is flooded with love.
Saving God, clothe us with your love and fill us with your Spirit so that we might love our neighbors and create the kind of community and world where light and life abound! Amen.