As we approach the last week of Advent, Paul’s lengthy salutation to the Romans might seem to be rather off-topic. In fact, at 129 words, it’s one of the longest run-on sentences in the New Testament-grammatically impeccable prose, yet discouraged by most English teachers. Why does Paul provide such a detailed description of his servanthood in the name of Jesus? Why doesn’t he head straight to those powerful words of shared grace that early and present-day Christians hunger for? As I read this passage again, I’m reminded of the speech-patterns of Data, the likeable android of Star Trek: The Next Generation, who frequently describes himself with similar precision. For Paul, the tireless servant-leader, and Data, the amazing yet humble science fiction character, their identities are inseparable from their beliefs. Data trusts wholly in the logic and integrity of his programming; Paul trusts wholly in the shared narrative of God’s redeeming gift to all humanity.
Believing in someone whose love is beyond imagining makes us all greater than the sum of our parts?or our words.
God of infinite power and patience, help us always to be mindful that who we are to one another is the expression of your love through Jesus Christ. Amen. — PF