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Romans
16:1-16
 
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
 
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. (ESV)
Deep Things of God
Lawrence, Deacon and Martryr
10 August 2015
Holy Scripture is written for our learning. However, it is not always clear to us what Scripture is intending to teach us. We wonder what we are to discern about God and His mercy for us in Christ when we are slogging through Leviticus or considering the slaughter in Judges. We struggle with reading the genealogies and the greetings that are appended to Paul's letters, such as in Romans 16. What could these personal greetings mean to us? How could they be significant for us to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest, as the old collect used to say? The short answer is: I am not sure. Maybe that's okay. For example, what undergraduate would walk into advanced physics and expect to immediately understand the great physical theories about the universe and its working? Perhaps there is a student full of his own superiority that might think such a thing. The study of science demands humility in the face of the intricacies of the theories that are offered to explain physical phenomena. Recently, the existence of particles that perhaps exceed the speed of light has enforced a new discipline of humility on true science, making true the statement of Socrates, "When I know, that is when I know nothing;" the modern take on which is: "The more I know, the less I know." We are always learning and Scripture is a book always open to our learning.
 
Such humility over against the richness of Gods' Word is quite appropriate. Once we start dictating to God's Word what is significant, important, helpful, and useful, we have demoted God's Word from its position as the speaking of God. Scripture then becomes a creature made by us to be infinitely susceptible to our manipulation. We become its author and push God out of the picture. This is hardly humility. Many things that we learn, even as children, have a depth that does not make them immediately susceptible to our understanding. Just ask an eighth grader why he is learning algebra. He will be unable to tell you; indeed he will carp about the fact that he will never use it in the real world. He is unaware that algebra is training your mind how to think about complex problems. Sometimes Scripture works this way. A particular Word of God may appear superfluous or even useless when we first encounter it, but later, after it has seeped into our consciousness, it is found to be quite useful in our spiritual lives. This is, after all, God's Word. It is sent by God to us to accomplish His gracious work among us.
 
Unfortunately, our society no longer cultivates the habits of mind that lead to careful rumination upon the Word of God. Everything is reduced to images and sound bites. If a word can't be digested in ten seconds or less, then it is must be useless. If its utility is not immediately apparent, we refuse to chew on it until we begin to grasp its significance. Much that is important about life and our faith cannot be reduced to a ten-second sound bite. It must be disclosed bit by hidden bit, because it is not susceptible to facile codification. The faith is only gotten to by bits and pieces in the consideration demanded by suffering, a consideration that discovers the deep things of God in Holy Scripture. 

 

John Chrysostom

"There is nothing superfluous, nothing added at random in the Scriptures. For if these names (Rm 16) had no use, they would not then have been added to the letter, nor would Paul have written what he has written. But there are some even so shallow, empty, and unworthy of heaven, who not only think that names, but even whole books of the Bible are of no use; such as Leviticus, Joshua, and more beside. In this way many of the simple people have been for rejecting the Old Testament, and advancing on in the way that results from this evil habit of mind, have likewise pruned many parts from the New Testament also. However we do not take much account of these men, because they are intoxicated and living for the flesh. But if anyone is a lover of wisdom, and a friend to spiritual pursuits, let him be told that even the things which seem to be unimportant in Scripture are not placed there at random and to no purpose, and that even the old laws have much to profit us. For it says, 'These things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction' (1Co 10:11).  Therefore he also says to Timothy, 'Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching' (1Ti 4:13), so urging him to the reading of the old books, though he was a man with such a great spirit in him."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 30
 
Prayer
Blessed Lord, who has caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of Your holy Word we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ, through whom we pray. Amen.
 
For the family of Carol Coolidge, who passed away, that those who mourn her death might be encouraged in the power of Christ's life
 
For Paul Lodholz, that the Lord Jesus would continue to watch over and guard Him in body and soul
 
For Marty Thomas, that the Lord Jesus Christ would grant her healing and full recovery
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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