Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, March 5, 2018
Welcome for the Outsider
What a statement. What a concept. For all that the apostle Paul is talked about as being misogynistic, and prejudiced, and this, and that, I come up against a passage like Romans 15:4-6, capped by 15:7.
I started out thinking about what Paul said in verse 4: “Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us.” I was struck by that, and thought about it for a while. Sure, there are lots of verses and passages in the New Testament that are instructive, encouraging, even uplifting to the heart. But, genealogies in the Hebrew Scriptures? Or, population lists of the various tribes? Or, passages in the Mosaic Law Code? How were those written to teach us?
Which led me to think of the many different cultures and nationalities surrounding the church where I work, in Morton Grove (a suburb of Chicago). This suburb is diverse in just about every way. I am certain that the different cultures and ethnic understandings cover a wide spectrum of ways of thinking. Which led me to consider the understanding of the Jewish mindset, in the centuries before the birth of Christ. I know they did consider genealogies and population lists to be important. Who am I to say that they are not important?
(And, what about things our culture says are important? I can’t legislate what others think, regardless of whether it is my culture or ethnicity, or someone else’s. Or, in some other century.)
All of which brings me to what Prof. Williams says in his reflection. “The hard thing, and the thing that Paul cared deeply about and strove to instill in his churches, is to do both at once: to be united as one body but also profoundly welcoming to the outsider.” 
What a profound idea. As Paul said, “7 Accept one another, then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you.” Dear Lord, I am convicted anew. Please, dear God, help me to accept people, accept individuals, coming from all over. Just as Paul had to deal with a polyglot society, so do I here is my setting. Help me—help us to reach out and provide “a place where there is a welcome for all and where there is unity. Amen.” 
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
 Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 89.