God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood.
The power of remembrance- The sense of smell is an amazing trigger for memory. I can remember my Grandma’s in Hatch, NM. We went there from Littleton, CO every Thanksgiving for 16 years straight. We would leave Littleton as soon as dad got off work on Wednesday and would drive the 8 hours to Hatch. We would arrive there about 3:00 in the morning. We would walk in the front door and, by the smells, you just knew you were in Grandma’s house. Grandma always had apples stored under the sink in her back room. Years later, long after my Grandmother had died, I walked into my mother’s house and suddenly I was standing in my Grandma’s living room! Sights, sounds, smells and even the presence of my grandmother were nearly tangible. I realized that it was the smell of apples. Mom had a bag of apples that had been sitting out on the cupboard for a couple of days. Only then did I realize that Grandma always had a bag of apples sitting on a counter in her back room.
Altars in the churches I have served and worshipped in all had some indication that their main purpose was to remind us of The Lord’s Supper – Communion. Many have said “In Remembrance of Me”, carved into the wood front. Our Altar has grapes carved into the base brace. Every time I look at it I am reminded of what Jesus did for us.
The power of remembrance- Where were you and what were you doing the moment you heard about the assassination of JFK? Ask anyone who was alive in 1963 and they will have an answer, most of the time with great detail. I was in the basement of our house in Littleton. I was sitting on a sawhorse in what was to be my brother’s and my room. My folds were in the kitchen having lunch with our family friend and his wife. Mr. Adams was our contractor as well and had been working on my room that morning. After lunch I went down to see how much had gotten done. The radio was still on. I was absolutely stunned as the announce said that the president had been shot. The days ahead were covered with images of motorcades, swearing in, a rider-less horse, and a very young boy saluting as his father’s casket lay on the caisson. That last picture brings a flood of thoughts and emotion every time I see it.
The power of remembrance- The disciples were gathered in the Upper Room at a meal they had shared at least three times as a group already It was Passover, and all was prepared. I’m sure they were remembering the many times before that, even back to childhood. At one point in the meal the children were sent on a “treasure hunt” so to speak to find the afikomen that had been hidden before the meal started. That was a piece of the matzo that symbolized the flight from Egypt. This time was different - unique. As Jesus blessed and broke the bread before them, He said, “This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:14) You can bet that each year, as the Disciples shared in that meal, that those words rang in their ears. Our present-day communion is to be, on one level, a remembrance of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. On another level it is to remember the forgiveness represented in his sacrifice, giving thanks, and feeling the great power of that forgiveness again.
The power of remembrance- Young Life in a High School and College Christian organization designed to touch students with the Gospel. Being introduced to Young Life as a High School senior was a moment of salvation for me! Up until that time I seemed to be just going thru the motions of church. Sunday was a non-personal encounter with the church, with ritual, and with the good feelings that came from being in church. It was a safe and welcoming place. We talked about God: what God did and what God asks of us. Young Life, however, provided a face-to-face encounter with Jesus my Savior! The words finally found a home in my heart. I experienced God, not a church or denomination, but as Jesus, who came to earth for me, and gave his life for me! I can still see the basement of the leader’s home, the hassock I was leaned up against as I sat on the floor. I can still hear the Gospel truth as it reached past my mind and touched my heart.
Paul’s letter to the Romans has been, up to here, helping people to understand the concept of universal rebellion. The wayward nature of humanity has been laid out. Now, Paul reveals God’s universal persistence. You see, even when we were “rebellious” God’s love was reaching out to us, seeking us. That rebellion, for us, is not necessarily a “little-hellion” kind of rebellion, though for some that may be true. But, more likely, it has been our persistence in going our own way, ignoring God’s wisdom, and seeking our own gratification. God’s righteousness and love never fades or goes away. God will pursue us until we finally turn our lives toward him
Paul speaks about God’s righteousness. In Jesus’ time righteousness was understood in several ways. There was the legal term indicating what is just or fair. Another understanding was more of a moral sense, taking the high road in life. But this passage is talking about God’s righteousness and is speaking about upholding a covenant – God’s covenant with humanity. To be in Covenant is to be close to God. Paul Achtemeier says, “…”righteousness is not a quality or a conformity to some legal norm. Rather, it is a positive relationship to God growing out of his power to restore through Jesus Christ his gracious lordship over us… .” Rebellious humans have a tendency to break that covenant on our side. God’s part of the covenant, however, he will never break! Our present-day communion is also to be a connecting with this gracious and loving God, infinite in patience.
This World Communion Sunday notice that three times Paul uses the word “all.” “…For all who have faith in him … All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God … all are treated righteous freely by his grace … .” (Verses 22-24)
The power of remembrance – When we are faced with difficult decisions the power of remembrance can point the way to past triumphs. When we are tempted the power of remembrance can lead us past the temptations through the power of the Risen Christ. When we are weighed down with the world’s cares the power of remembrance can remind us of what Jesus carried for us. When the world’s strife seems to be tearing it apart the power of remembrance can lift us in God’s power to meet the strife with confidence and assurance. God’s universal gift is His Son, Jesus Christ who gave his life for us all. The gift for each of us … “all (who have faith in Jesus) are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of the ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.”
If anything can unite our world, it will be the righteousness and faithfulness of God.
On this World Communion Sunday, let us remember all that Jesus has done for us. In his death he has atoned for the sins of the entire world forever! This is a gift from God in Christ Jesus. As we come to the table for communion, let us remember to be humbly grateful for God’s good gift, and feel the power of God’s new covenant coursing through our souls.
Pastor Paul Grossman