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Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the gentiles for the sake of his name, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” -Romans 1:1-7

If you had been a member of the Christian church in Rome, one of the people to whom Paul had addressed this letter, you knew who you were working with, what he was made of, and to Whom he belonged. You also knew his care for you as a fellow Christian, whether you had, or ever would, meet him face to face. These are powerful words from a man who meant them, lived them, and, eventually, died for them. The Epistles are some of my favorite books of the Bible. They are personal, direct, written by and to people seeking faith in understanding the harsh realities of their world, just as we do today. We have that context with which to work, but we only have half the conversation in front of us, and we are left to discern what the letters to these authors contained, as well as what parts they are answering.

I don’t find this difficult or off putting, but rather fascinating. Most human communication is exactly this. Even in person, human beings don’t say much of what they are thinking or feeling. So, exercising my mind around understanding the kinds of questions any of us ask regarding the human condition is no different applied to interchanges in print from millennia ago. I believe that many of those unseen questions are about how the Gospel has changed their perspective on some of the most basic parts of daily living, including personal relationships, community interactions and the reality that they were no isolated from the larger world and its impact. They wanted to know: How do we do this new way of being? We’re still asking that question today. How do we do this? How do we live in the freedom of the Gospel while also being acutely aware of how much the larger world impacts our daily lives in small and large ways?

Image via Juliane Liebermann on

The answer is simple: there is no one easy answer. But there is continued learning and abundant faith. We keep paying attention, asking questions, listening to each other, and we keep trying to do the next right thing in the knowledge of God’s love for us, through us and among us. Being immersed in God’s love for us fills up those spaces of confusion, uncertainty and questioning ourselves with clarity, certainty and focus. These transformed places give us strength, peace and joy that we can share with others in the actions of faith that continually change the world in ways we cannot even imagine. And in all of this, we become the very letters that Jesus Christ is still sending to the world.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our your hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” -II Corinthians 3: 2-3

You and I are the letters that God still sends to God’s people to answer their questions about how to keep learning and living this new life we are still experiencing as the Gospel unfolds in our lives. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

About the author

Corey Kemp

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.

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