Every once in a while, our lectionary (the 3 year cycle of readings we hear on Sunday morning), gives us a text that I don't always feel the need to explain. I don't necessarily want to describe what the text is about. Instead, I just listen to the words as they're read out loud. I don't rush to unpack what they say. I don't try to understand everything that was written. I let the words flow over me and I wait for the Holy Spirit to open me to what God wants to say. The word God gives me might not necessarily be exactly the same word God gives you. Yet the lesson we hear from the Bible will work on us, helping to transform us into the people God knows we can be. 

Today's reading from the book of Romans 15:4-13 is a passage from scripture meant to do something to us. It starts by pointing us to the scripture we've been given and how our faith actually transforms us. Through Christ, our relationship with each other is refined, reformed, and made new so that we can always be a people of hope. And as a people with hope, we have been given words that help carry us through whatever life might throw our way. These words appear in our scriptures, in our prayers, and in the Spirit-filled interactions we have with one another. Yet there will be times when our faith will be shaken, our confidence in God will weaken, and when hope will be hard to see. And when that happens, a passage like this from Romans can help connect us to the God who will never leave our side.

So I invite you to just listen to these words today. Read them out loud if you can. Let the words Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago feed your faith. One way you can do that is place the sentences from these passages in different parts of our worship service. Include verse 7 in the opening we usually share. Add verse 4 before we read any readings from scripture. Let verse 5 connect you with one another as you gather around the Lord's table. Let verses 10 and 11 be the reason why you sing loud. Let this passage from Romans fill your soul so that verse 13 becomes your anthem and your way of life. Because, right now, you are loved.  And regardless of where you are in your life, God is transforming you into something new.