An Open Table where Love knows no borders


  1. Thanks! I had not considered love as a debt to others — as compared to the usual idea of it being a gift I graciously decide to bestow on those whom I choose.

  2. Vincent Michael Hodge

    Paul, like all good Jewish thinkers and rhetoricians, uses words and ideas in juxtaposition to make strong points. So in reading the Bible it is a careful policy if we do not canonise particular phrases. So even in such a provident statement as Love is the supreme guide, Paul is showing that there are always two sides to the idea and that we must hold the complexity in the forefront of our lives as well as the simplicity. The context of the letter to the church in Rome is community- what Paul famously describes as part of the body of Christ. That is a more substantial idea – much more innovative than the love mantra. Love was known well before Christ. The Gospels disparage people who love family and friends but forget the stranger. The emphasis for Paul is not simply “love’ but “love as the expression of – the incarnation of- the body/Body of Christ”. Such is the complexity that in the verses immediately prior to our Sunday passage from Romans, Paul demands we follow secular rulers who have authority over us – this is necessary because the primary life form is the individual living in
    community – the body living with a Body! And that Body is Christ – a man executed by the secular and religious authorities. And then he overturns that edict of what we owe to the secular authorities with the edict – we owe love. In Romans 12-19-21, Paul talks about not taking private “vengeance”. His answer is in Romans 13(1-7) – he describes the public authorities who are charged by God with the ‘sword’ – with the authority to exact “vengeance’ – we owe the public domain a debt of honour, and custom. Then he comes to our passage where the describes personal behaviours like murder and lust and licentiousness and adultery – strife and zealous emulation – all of these subject to the debt to owe love. Paul, like all of his writings is wrestling, groping forward as he tries to contend with the need to justify private and public lifestyles – what our preacher tonight was grappling with as he ministers to people for whom Christianity has not been “Good news”. What matthew is grappling with through threats of excommunication from the community.
    Paul is not so innocent to think that “love is a cure all” solution available easily if only we read this sentence in Romans 13! Paul is doing what Jesus does- getting back to some foundational general principles rooted in daily life – principles that bang up against one another in mutual support and mutual antagonism. Paul’s death is uncertain other than that of a martyr’s death in Rome. Love to the end.

  3. How blest we are to be able to listen again to our preachers words, and have real time to reflect on things that in a service can pass us by unconsidered . Also to read Jen’s sumation in the first comment. It reminded me of a comment I made to a Christian friend about a situation she was struggling with “Just love them and leave the rest to God” It is in the same elk as Will’s comment “What do I owe this person – only love” and again Jen’s reflection = she had never thought of Love as a debt she owed to others rather then a gift she may chose to bestow. Or as Will also brought to us “unconditional positive regard” – how such an attitude would change the person or situation we find ourselves in. Thank you

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