Read Romans 15:4-13.
Paul writes to a divided community in his letter to the Romans. Gentile and Jewish converts are having trouble getting along with each other, largely due to cultural differences, and Paul spends a great deal of energy mediating their disagreements in this letter. Knowing this frames our reading for today.
Paul encourages unity between them in our reading for today. However, in doing this, Paul is not asking them to homogenize and give up their unique identities. Instead, Paul leans on the example of Christ’s hospitality. Christ welcomes all, regardless of their background or social status. In doing so, Christ honors the humanity of each and every person. The hospitality that Christ embodies invites us to come as we are and find a home.
At the same time, this example of hospitality urges us to show meaningful hospitality — even to those with whom we are uncomfortable. This can be a tough call to live into, especially on campus. Many of the social aspects of college life are inherently exclusionary. Among other things, we divide ourselves by major, club, and Greek letter. We compete with each other over grades and class rank.
Yet, Christ calls us into a community that is hopeful for the future and supports one another in the midst of a shared struggle.
God of hope, offer us encouragement in the midst of finals. Remind us that our majors, our grades, and our extracurriculars are not what define us. Give us the confidence to know that you love us, honor us, and recognize us just as we are. Help us to be a community that welcomes freely, just as you welcome us. Amen.