Sometimes opportunity is so fleeting that we easily miss it if we aren’t paying attention. Take, for example, the coming of light to the sky. That’s something that happens every morning so it’s often taken for granted. Today, because of the shift to Daylight Saving Time, I was happy to see that it was in process as I started the trek downstairs for my coffee. Had I not been paying attention when I sat to write on my return I would have missed a breathtaking red sky whose glory dissipated within two minutes. I was almost too busy reading Paul’s staccato-like advice to the Romans in chapter 12 to look out the window. Both “feasts for the eyes” were worthy of a pause.
I could have just glided over that reading (ROM 12:5-26) because of what seemed self-explanatory as well as familiar. I mean, why would I need to think about how to exercise our differing gifts as I read: “let us exercise them: if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation…” since it follows automatically in that way. I got stopped, however, by the last three elements on the list: “if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does works of mercy, with cheerfulness.” Generosity, diligence and cheerfulness are certainly qualities to be pondered.
Had I not been slowed down by those three important words, I could have missed the brilliance of what came next. I find it impossible not to share the totality of this message because every bit of Paul’s exhortation is so vital to our spiritual growth. If we took each one of the following clauses for a day’s reflection we would be much richer when Thanksgiving rolls around. And then it would be a good practice to start again for the season of Advent! But I’m getting ahead of myself. I plan just to bask in the sunshine of this morning and read the text – the entire remainder – aloud, to hear Paul’s words again as if for the first time.
Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.
Blessings on us all!