Friday, September 11, 2009
Reading the Bible Together: Romans
In my congregational annual report last February I told my congregation that I wanted 2009 to be a year of learning scripture and our theological tradition. Back in Lent the church read Mark's Gospel together, and I supplied daily reflections.
So, in a similar vein, from September 13 to November 1 the church will be reading Paul's Letter to the Romans together.
I know what you're thinking, “ROMANS!? REALLY!?”
Why Romans? Some reasons:
1. Many people call Romans the heart of the Protestant canon. I think they're right.
2.If I were a bible scholar I'd focus on Paul's letters. And Romans is the crown jewel of the Pauline corpus. We can find everything we love and hate about Paul within these 16 chapters.
3.As a Lutheran, major theological themes are found in Romans: Justification by faith, law and gospel distinction, new creation. It's all there.
4.Some say that the whole of Paul's theology is covered in this book. Romans is like a Pauline survey course.
5.It's a hard book. You need to spend time with it to really get Paul's argument. Proof texting is impossible with Romans (or should be). You can't just find a verse here and there and think you understand what Paul is saying. He stacks his arguments one upon another, until he arrives at a final point. Sometimes this takes numerous chapters to happen. So, Romans is both an intellectual AND spiritual challenge.
6.Romans has been formative in my own understanding of God.
On Sundays we'll be deviating from the lectionary a bit by dropping the first lesson (do we really need to listen to Proverbs?), reading the gospel first, and then the Romans reading I assigned for the Sunday as a third lesson. My sermon will be on the Romans reading.
I invite YOU to join our congregation's Roman journey. Share your thoughts. And grow in the knowledge and love of God through the reading of scripture.
(btw: my wife made this graphic. Cool, eh?)