In what is undoubtedly his most oft-quoted statement, Alasdair MacIntyre once said,
“I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’”
Paul has just spent eleven chapters addressing the prior question of what story or stories his Roman hearers find themselves in.
And it really is a matter of plural stories.
They find themselves a part of a Roman story rooted in imperial myths.
This is a story of conquest and the gods;
of imperial justice and the Pax Romana;
of Caesar and the pater familias.
And they find themselves grafted in to a Jewish story of a crucified Messiah.
This is a story of covenant and the God of Israel;
of righteousness and shalom,
of Jesus and a Father who keeps his promises.
So for page after page, the apostle unpacks this Jewish story of Jesus,
with dozens upon dozens of biblical citation and allusion,
because this is the story that gives the diverse community
of Roman house churches their common identity,
this is the story that they live in subversion of the imperial story,
this is the story that will give them a clear indication of how they should live,
what they should do.
That is where it all turns.
“Therefore, by the mercies of God ….”
if this is your story,
if this is the narrative of which you are a part,
if that whole narrative from Adam to Abraham
to Moses to the Prophets to the Messiah,
if all of this is true,
if this is indeed a story of the mercies of God,
if this is indeed a story of fundamental justice,
if this is a story that redeems all of creation, even as it subverts the empire,
then here is how you should live.
And what we find as we begin to read the twelfth chapter of Romans
is that this is a community, a body,
of deep humility,
of radical hospitality.
In other words, this is a community that knows how to party!
by the mercies of God,
because this story is true,
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to come and party!
Just before we begin our Lenten journey to the cross,
to the very heart of the story that gives us our identity,
we really need to have a party.
The church calls this “Mardi Gras,”
or “Fat Tuesday.”
So, let’s forget about the calories,
and let’s party this Tuesday.
Bring your favourite treats.
You know, cupcakes with sprinkles,
RiceKrispy squares …
you get the idea.
Let’s go crazy this week.
And to help us to make this a memorable Tuesday,
we have a special guest performer.
Karla A is a wonderful singer/songwriter from Winnipeg,
and she will be performing the prelude (so come on time!)
and the reflection piece at the end of the service.
[Who knows, maybe we can get her to play at the breakfast party as well!]
And get this:
Joanna M will be presiding and Joanna M will be preaching.
Two Joanna’s in one morning!
How cool is that?
Do I sound excited about this Tuesday?
Well I am!
Now what good is a party if you don’t bring in folks from the highways and byways?
So bring your friends, and even bring your enemies.
I’m getting hungry (on all kinds of levels) just thinking about this week.
Hope to see you on Tuesday,
Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday, February 12 @ 7.22am
Wycliffe College Chapel