A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, September 21, 2020
At 10:30 today, this devotional will be offered online at
A printer-friendly version of today’s devotion is available at DDGN 20200921
Good morning! It is September 21 and it’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News which is from Romans 16:1-16. Here we go!
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my relative Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
Here ends the reading.
Why in the world did I pick that one out of the lectionary for today? It’s just a bunch of names- who cares?! Is that what you’re thinking? It’s a good question! Why did I pick that?
This book of Romans is one of the undisputed letters of Paul. Paul wrote about 13 letters – not about, he did – he wrote 13 letters, or at least 13 letters are ascribed to Paul. Seven are undisputed letters. Paul wrote them, we’re pretty sure about it, as you study that in seminary or in theology. Six of those letters are questionably written by Paul. Often times historically, a disciple would write a letter in the name of the person they followed, as if it was written by that person. And it was a way of continuing their teaching or their thoughts after someone had died. So they would write it “in the name of… such and such”. It was a way of honoring them, but it wasn’t necessarily accurate that it was from them – because, they’re dead.
Romans is a book we know Paul wrote. Paul seems paradoxical in a lot of ways when you study Paul. One of the courses I took in seminary, was specifically on the letters of Paul – it was one of my favorite classes. And, in this, what’s important to know in this text from Romans today, is Paul is affirming women across the board. Often, we don’t think Paul does that- we could do a whole teaching session on that! But in this section, which we know Paul wrote, Paul specifically points out women. Phoebe is the first one he notes, who is a deacon – someone who ministers to or serves in the church. She also is quite wealthy – Phoebe is the benefactor of him and some others – which is surprising for her to have the amount of wealth that she had, it seems that she financially supported many, in terms of church. And then, Prisca & Aquila, Prisca is short for Priscilla, she’s mentioned in Acts with Aquila, her husband. They were a couple who were very prominent in the church. Then later in verse 7, it says greet Andronicus and Junia. Junia specifically, is of interest, because that was a female name and it looks like that was altered in many different Biblical text and an s was added to it, to make it a male name. Because the Bible was written, generally by men, and the idea of a female apostle wasn’t easy. It was a patriarchal time. But it appears Junia was a female and she was an apostle. Even though we don’t talk about it. So, it’s one of those things, that seems trivial, it seems like a minor detail, why do we care about all these names? Who cares? Who cares? Yet, over and over again in this list, Paul is highlighting women. He’s highlighting the person who is a mother to him, he’s referencing Junia, specifically, one of his relatives who was in prison with him, prominent among the apostles, and Junia is a female. It’s one of the strongest pieces of evidence we have of female apostleship.
While that might seem trivial, it’s not. Because how we read the Bible impacts our lives and how we live. So, I’m challenging or at least raising for you, engaging with some of your logic and thought in more academic ways today. Because how we think often leads to how we act – those things are generally connected. And one of the things I love about the Lutheran denomination, is that we don’t leave our brains at the door and say “OK, we’re not going to give any critical thought to what’s in front of us”. We’re encouraged to give critical thought and that’s one of the things that can add great richness to our faith. And you all are a congregation who likes to dig at things and learn and think about things and ponder them. So, that’s what I leave for you to ponder today: How does it impact your faith or change your faith to know that there were women involved as apostles? Junia being specifically, a woman we know was a female apostle. What does it do for your faith to know that women were in the realm of ministering and serving from the beginning in ministry? So… thinking about that today, and then applying that to current context. How does changing our thoughts on some of that, based on historical information that we don’t typically talk about, how does that change your faith? How does that change how you might engage with women? How does that change how you might engage with other people in society who typically are not affirmed or whose voices aren’t heard? A lot to consider… God be with you in all of that. Take care, everybody. Bye-bye.