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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, June 22, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Romans 6:1–11

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (NRSV)

My understanding of sin is a “turning away from God” or “missing the mark.” When I think of sin in this simple way, I acknowledge that I sin every day. Every day there is one thing I might have done differently so that I didn’t hurt someone’s feelings or that could have lifted someone’s spirits. Sin is not always a dire crime; it is often simply turning away from God even in a brief moment.

Paul’s message to the Romans raised serious questions about ethics and a moral life. N. T. Wright, in one of his commentaries, says that the early Christian church was facing a paradigm shift about their ethical and moral center—do they live under the reign of sin and death or under the reign of grace and righteousness? With the dying and rising of Christ, we are baptized into a reign of grace and righteousness. How hard it is to remember this!

In our baptismal sacrament, there is a list of renunciations we the congregation and parents are asked to make. The first one is, “Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?” Interestingly, many Presbyterian churches drop this phrase “renounce evil and its power in the world.” For me, that lessens the power of what baptism means—that we are buried with Christ in his death and rise to share in his resurrection. I want to turn away from evil, especially my own, and be resurrected with Christ.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ. Help me to remember that even the smallest slight I commit or omission I make is a turning away from you. Bring me back through your grace so that I no longer miss the mark. Amen.

Written by Maggie Shreve, Parish Associate for Jail Ministry

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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