Why I’m Smiling

This morning’s epistle reading was Romans 16:1-16. I have to admit that my reaction to this passage surprised me. I discovered a huge smile spreading across my face as I read through Paul’s personal greetings to various individuals and families in the Roman Church.

The Epistle to the Romans is viewed as Paul’s theological masterpiece. NT Wright states in his commentary on Romans that while many will disagree on how to approach and interpret Romans, “What nobody doubts is that we are here dealing with a work of massive substance, presenting a formidable intellectual challenge while offering a breathtaking theological and spiritual vision.”

Yet, here at the end of Paul’s theological magnum opus, we find a small window into the genuine street-level embodiment of his theology — love. He greets people by name. He calls a few “beloved.” He proclaims with exuberance those who have risked much and served well. These are his genuine friends. These are loved ones for whom he prays. These dear ones of whom he thinks frequently.

Who knows how all of their lives first intersected. Who knows who introduced one person to another? Who knows who invited one person to dinner to meet another? And Paul is part of this intricate web of friendships. Yes, he’s an apostle. Yes, he’s a recognized leader. But most importantly, he’s their friend and co-worker in Christ. They have rejoiced together, cried together, prayed together, learned together, shared their lives together. Somehow in his wisdom, God brought all of them together into a loving and prayerful community of his Good News for the life of the world.

And that made me smile this morning.

Then it made me think about everyone whom God has brought into my life over the years.

And now I can’t stop smiling.

Aaahhh… Summer!

Debbie’s already posted a couple of times about how summer is progressing for our family. (You can read them HERE and HERE.) I am so glad that she gets a few weeks off this summer. She’s worked so hard non-stop for the last few years. I know she has missed spending leisurely time with our kids. And I know they have missed it with her as well.

I am also enjoying the slower pace. I feel that as I age, my body quickly acclimates to a more relaxing schedule than when I was younger. Yesterday was a good example. I got home from work about 4:30 pm. Debbie and the kids were swimming at their cousins’ home, so I exercised and went for a nice walk. Later, I took Debbie out for Garden Burgers at one of the family-owned restaurants in Glendora. We’ve gotten to know the owner’s wife, who is Greek Orthodox. So while waiting for our burgers, we had a nice conversation with her about fasting (we’re currently in the Apostle’s Fast) and how to help our kids learn the spiritual importance about fasting. During dinner, Debbie and I had a nice relaxing conversation. After we arrived home from dinner, I went out to water the grass in front of our apartment complex. For some reason, the sprinklers haven’t been turning on, so the grass and bushes are like crispy bacon without the cool bacon aroma. So I spent a nice time in the cool evening, watering the lawn and listening to John Grisham’s Playing for Pizza. Then later, Debbie, Michael and I watched a good cowboy movie called Crossfire Trail, which is based off of a Louis L’amour novel.

No stress. No rush. No scurrying to finish homework or scrambling to get to a meeting.

And as I thought about the slower rhythm of summer, it reminded me that we’re also experiencing a slower rhythm at Church. The Paschal season ended on Pentecost a couple of weeks ago. And as wonderful as Lent, Holy Week and Pascha were, I am enjoying the slower rhythm of the Church. It’s as if the Church is making room for all of us to take the victory and beauty of Pascha and to live it out in the world personally — in our normal rhythms of prayer, fasting, family, friends, work, and play. For me, this is what being a Christ-follower is all about — learning to grow into and embody Jesus’ fullness in real life, to become by grace what Christ is by nature. That’s salvation. That’s mission. That’s life. It really is that simple because Jesus is my salvation, my mission and my life. And being in a Church where this is just normal life for everyone is absolutely awesome!

So, I feel like I’m walking through life more thoughtful and contemplative right now. And while there are things I’d like to write about, even feel compelled to write about at times, to do so without restraint would risk engaging in a flurry that is alien to what is best for this moment and season.

 Subscribe through Feedburner