Read Romans 8:28-39

 

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.  And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?

 

Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

 

Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

 

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (NRSV)

 

from Rev. Richard Howard – First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Morgantown

 

            Today’s lesson from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome is a classic standard used in times of great distress.  Specifically, it is one of several I regularly use in funeral services because it offers its hearers such great hope.

            It is hard to “read the signs” of God’s presence when one has just suffered a great loss.  In this passage the Apostle Paul clearly and boldly proclaims the omnipresent sovereignty of God.  When we find ourselves in the depths of despair, hope comes to us from these words: ”Who will separate us from the love of Christ?”  To be sure of the totality of God’s presence, perhaps we should also ask, ”What can separate us from the love of Christ?”   Paul makes clear that no one and no thing can ever separate us from the Lord.

            Anyone who doubts the absolute power of God, after having heard or read these words of Paul, wasn’t paying attention!  “Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?”  With a resounding “No,” Paul answers his own question: “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  And he loves us still.

            How can we be without hope for long in the face of such convincing evidence? The signs of God’s great power and ever-presence are there for us to see, if we but open our eyes.  Even in the face of great distress, we are already on the side of victory! Nothing, and no one, will ever be able to take this away from us.  We are God’s own.

 

Help us to see how you love us, O God.  Help us to see and believe.

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