November 7, 2017

A Lot of Help from Our Friends

November 7, 2017


Romans 16:1-16

Psalm 27:1-5

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

This week’s sermon text: Romans 14:13-23


Looking back at the list of people Paul greets in Rom 16:1-16, we know very little about them. Paul tells us what is essential:

  1. They were “chosen in the Lord”
  2. They were willing to “risk their necks”
  3. Some had been in prison with Paul
  4. They “worked hard”
  5. Some had churches in their houses
  6. They all offered hospitality
  7. Paul felt close to them and considered them kinfolk, even in one case his “mother”

Twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth said about Paul’s letter: “It was addressed to men and women; to Greeks, Romans, and Jews; to master and slave.” He points out that some of the people named may not have understood the sophisticated theological arguments Paul makes in Romans, but it doesn’t matter because they lived Paul’s theology. They were a living resurrection community. And it is not at all surprising, according to Barth, “that they were able to—salute each other with a holy kiss.” (Barth, Epistle to the Romans, Oxford University Press, 1933, pp. 535-536).

Today’s reading from the wisdom writer of Ecclesiastes says: “Two are better than one. . . . For if they fall, one will lift up the other.” Paul seems to agree. As Christians, we engage in mission all our lives, and we develop close relationships with the people who work with us. We make friends when we tutor, collect clothes for Graceworks, build for Habitat, pack meals, fill flood buckets, go on mission trips, and much more. Responsibilities such as caregiving, hospitality, standing up for what is right and good, and neighborliness are at the heart of our mission. We become aware quickly that as individuals alone we could not do what needs to be done for others in Christ’s name. Without the community of the church, the combined work of our sisters and brothers in Christ, our efforts would be a drop in the bucket. Christian stewardship involves putting together all our gifts, resources, and efforts, so that, by God’s grace, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


  • What does it mean to be “chosen in the Lord”?
  • How can our friendships further the mission of the church?


  • When a teacher says, “Today we’re going to use the buddy system,” what does that mean?
  • How could we use the “buddy system” when we do mission work at church?

God, our strength, we pray for your guidance as we learn to do your work. Open our ears to your call and give us the joy of working side by side with friends in faith. Help us to keep each other from falling. In Jesus’ name. Amen.