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July 21st Meditation

Weekly Meditation Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. (Romans 14:3)     One of the conflicts of the early church was the question of the Jewish purity laws which governed, among other things, what you can and cannot eat. This is the question Paul is addressing in Romans 14. Some members of the early church in Rome (and elsewhere) are choosing to follow a kosher diet and celebrate Jewish holy days while others claim that Jesus Christ has set them free from such expectations and faith in Christ is all you need.     "Those who eat" refers to those who eat meat, particularly those who eat non-kosher meat or meat that has been sacrificed to other gods. "Those who abstain" have chosen to follow the kosher path. Apparently, they did not get along as one "despised" the other and one would "pass judgment" on the other.     Isn't it wonderful that we have come so far from these simple beginnings? Isn't it wonderful that we neither despise nor pass judgment upon those who think and act differently from us? This passage is hardly relevant to our world today.     (Sorry, sometimes my sarcasm gets the best of me.)     Can we disagree with one another without despising one another? Can we hold different beliefs without passing judgment? This is the challenge for us today as we struggle with a global pandemic, racial tensions, and political divisions among all the other issues and problems that we face.     Paul reminds his readers that as disciples of Jesus Christ we are united in Christ. He writes, "...whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's." Our kinship in Christ is what ties us together. And that kinship in Christ calls us to love one another despite our differences.     Then, in verse 10, Paul writes, "Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God."  Not only are we united in our need for God's mercy and grace, but we must also humbly acknowledge our lack of understanding before our All-knowing God.     We do not have to agree on all things in order to love one another, as God commands. Rather than despise and pass judgment on one another, may we see the sacredness in each person and treat all of God's children with dignity and respect.    As an aside, I want you to know that when I choose scripture readings for these devotions, I usually turn to the daily readings from the Presbyterian Book of Common Prayer (online edition) which is prepared years in advance. This just happened to be one of the readings for today. I am often amazed at how relevant these readings can be. Worship This Week Thursday, July 23, 6:30pm, on the north sidewalk Sunday, July 26, 9am in the Peace Garden and on Facebook Live If you choose to join us in person, please wear a mask and practice social distancing Keep In Prayer: Lorrie Watkins, Addie Weaver, Helen Payne Our shut-ins: Harriett Ryerson, Kate Shelley, Dot Ann Smith, Nora Smith, Helen Payne

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