Romans 15:4-13 (NRSV)
Verse 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
Verse 5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, Verse 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 7Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Verse 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, Verse 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name"; Verse 10and again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; Verse 11and again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; Verse 12and again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope."
Verse 13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today’s reading from Romans encourages us to live in harmony with one another. For the writer, Paul, this isn’t a shallow “let’s all get along” sort of feeling. Rather, he is communicating a sense of hope—an openness to possibility—that when we build up our neighbor, we begin to live into the vision of unity that God has intended for us. There are many things that are at work to divide people and put them into different boxes, tribes, or groups. Jesus repeatedly brings these different people together, as welcomed guests to his common table, to remind us that our different talents and viewpoints can be in service to one another rather than used to tear each other apart. In the reality of our broken relationships, we may not always be able to actively live into this space. But when the opportunity arises to meet someone new or different, how might you engage in words and actions of welcoming that reflect Christ’s welcome for you?
Jesus, in your travels you sat at many tables, inviting disciples, scholars, sinners, soldiers, and others to experience each other in your presence. As we go through our day, help us to practice that hospitality and life-giving curiosity about the people you place in our path. Amen.