Read Romans 1:1-7.
Christmas cards have been sent and received. Our fridges are cluttered with the picture cards from loved ones. Our mantles are decorated with the Christmas wishes from families. We feel honored to be remembered and thought of. We feel loved.
Some families include a traditional Christmas letter in their holiday cards. In these letters they share what has been happening over the past year. Facebook is starting to put an end of the Christmas letter for some. But for those who do, the Christmas letter has become an art form. There are even blogs that will help you write it and give you samples.
In the Hellenistic culture of Paul’s day, letter writing was an art. There was a basic template that all letter writers used. These first seven verses from Romans 1 are the letter’s greeting. Paul’s greeting is a tad bit longer than most. Some have called these verses a “mini sermon” because he communicates grace to all.
At the time when Paul is writing this letter to the Roman church, the church includes Jewish and Gentile believers. The message is clear, the grace of Jesus Christ sets both Hebrew and Greek apart to share the good news.
Grace is for all.
All are called to share that grace.
The early Church, as the Church now, had its share of differences. There were different Jesus-experiences. There were different cultures. There were differences. This is why Paul preached and wrote about unity in the Body of Christ so much, and perhaps why we need to do the same today.
David Bartlett writes:
“Grace” is Paul’s word for the undeserved goodness we receive absolutely freely from God out of God’s great generosity, the goodness we receive in Jesus Christ. Grace means that for Christians every morning is Christmas morning, bright with gifts and wonderful surprises – bright with the gift of Christ himself.”
Every morning is Christmas morning! Every morning we receive the gift of grace from God, through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Every morning we receive a love letter from God in the form of the Word.
As Advent comes to a close, let us not forget the gift of the Christ child – a letter of love – came to bring grace to all. Let us, in that same spirit, remember to show grace to all.