Many people only know John 3:16. Explaining the importance of John’s use of the word sign requires too much work. After all, if anything we know of recent events, signs and symbols point to different things for different people.
It should come as no surprise that many only know Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome for the verses associated with the Roman Road. Recent work by the likes of N.T. Wright prodded some back to Paul for more than the traditional outline applied to his letters – theology and practice.
Philosophers have been riding the return to Paul for a while mining him for his political, life together, implications.
Enter Beverly Gaventa
Last April or early May I learned my friend Jason Micheli and Aldersgate United Methodist Church would expand the Epistle readings from the Lectionary and do a summer series on Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome. What a great idea!
Jason pointed me to a new commentary by Beverly Gaventa, When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel according to Paul (Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic). What a great read!
Close to twenty years ago I met Derrick Bohn. He was the pastor of the Tuttle Christian Church. We struck up a friendship. While I cannot recall the motivation, Derrick wanted to read through and talk about Revelation, the last book of the Bible. He wanted to teach/preach a series from the book. We met regularly to talk about what we were reading and how we were understanding what many consider a difficult book to cipher.
When Jason and I began talking about Beverly’s book and a summer series in Romans, it brought back great memories of two pastors talking about the Scriptures from within different Christian denominational contexts. The experience was invaluable.
The series on Romans brought the same experience.
It is a letter. Too often we read New Testament letters with an eye to outlining. We want to mine gems, nuggets of goodness. But, when we do we run the risk of missing the long arc, tapestry, at work to communicate the Good News. When we do that we may make, for instance, Philippians little more than a verse for our Eye Black. Think 4:13.
Beverly Gaventa invites readers to consider the long argument Paul makes that encourages Christians in Rome to live in the work of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. And, us too.
Recently my friend David was in town. He had not heard of podcasts. I suggested it might be both a good resource for him and a good medium as a pastor. David messaged me to say he had listened to his first and is excited about the possibilities.
And, look for a return to regular podasts after a busy summer.
Thanks for reading and listening.
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