A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY AND ACCEPTABLE TO GOD

 

The Daily Devotion for Lent from Emily Hylden and the Living Church.   Making ourselves, our souls and bodies a reasonable and holy sacrifice is our calling. This devotion gives us a new perspective on today’s lesson from Chapter 12 of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans. PN

 

Daily Devotional is a ministry of the Living Church Foundation.
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Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/Flickr
A Living Sacrifice
Daily Devotional • March 13
By the Rev. Emily R. Hylden
When I am given the joy to celebrate the Eucharist, I often use the first words of this chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans as the Offertory Sentence. While I’ve had this verse memorized (from the NIV, 1984) for almost 20 years, it’s taken on new meaning as I’ve undertaken to lead God’s people in celebrating Eucharist in the last four years.

The first two verses were paired together in my mind and heart as I grew up, and they encouraged me as a teenager to not be concerned with the way others’ lives looked in comparison to mine; it was to be expected that my habits and my lifestyle would look different from many of my peers, as I was primarily concerned with being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

While this is of course an important truth to continue meditating upon, what strikes me about this pair of verses now, especially when used at the Offertory, is the fleshy and sacrificial nature of our calling as Christians. Further, reading out of an RSV or KJV relative, brings a new understanding by considering the sacrifice singular while the bodies remain plural. The communal aspect of this charge is unmistakable.

As we approach the table with trembling and with joy, it is fitting to be reminded both of the intensely intimate, fleshy nature of our calling, and how critical our community’s unity is to our salvation. To think of laying our own bodies on the altar, to be so willing to cooperate in the life of the kingdom as to allow our personal beings to be sacrificed, is uncomfortable but unavoidable.

How might we be putting ourselves and our own bodies above the needs of Christ’s body, the Church?

Romans 12:1-21

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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