8 But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). 9 Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. 11 The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame. 12 There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. 13 All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.
Call on the Name of the Lord
Good Day Family,
What is this message of faith? Is it found in creeds and statements of faith? Is it a laundry list of beliefs and doctrines? Is the message about a way to live and navigate the world? Is it about how to treat others and act toward God?
The Apostle Paul had been a man who zealously followed “the rules” of his faith. He knew them in detail. As a Pharisee, he had committed himself to an even higher standard than the Law even asked of him and others. That led him to persecute followers of Jesus that he thought were being unfaithful and acting against the purposes of his religion. Ultimately, Paul has an encounter with Jesus that leads him away from the letter of the law to following the Lord of his heart. The word that Paul had committed to memory became written on his heart as he recognized that the ultimate revelation of the Sovereign God and Creator was the Living Word—Jesus Christ.
Jesus had taught his disciples to pray for their enemies. Surely, in the midst of persecution, they would have prayed for their persecutors, including Paul. They called on the name of their God, and the Holy One answered. Paul’s life was transformed, not by fighting back with the same weapons but by accessing the heavenly hosts.
All around the world, we see deep divisions, acrimony, and even war. Russian’s invasion of Ukraine is only one symptom of a larger problem. Evil and hate runs rampant and unimpeded. Many lament and feel overwhelmed by hopelessness. But, I recently heard a quote by Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray, an American civil rights activist who became a lawyer, gender equality advocate, Episcopal priest, and author. Drawn to the ministry, in 1977 Murray was the first African-American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest, and one of the first women. She said that “Hope is a song in a weary throat.”
Hope doesn’t just speak. It sings. It sang on plantations and on the Underground Railroad as enslaved persons claimed freedom of mind, body, and spirit. It sang during marches in the Civil Rights and Equal Rights movements. It sang on countless camps and battlefields. It sings during prayer vigils dedicated to peace. It sings in through heavy hearts, exhausted minds, and weary throats.
And, it seems to me, hope sings loudest when it’s sung to God. When we lift our voices with songs of praise, hymns expressing our trust, and music connecting our souls, our songs become a spiritual cry unto the Lord. And, the God who hears, sings back. In the midst of all the uncertainty and chaos in the world, let us sing with the heavenly chorus…with hope.
Singing a new song,
We are the church and as we gather, in whatever form that may be, to worship, fellowship and serve, the church is alive and well.
Let us encourage one another. Remain safe and check in on one another. We will get through this, and when we do…and look back on the other side…we will be stronger, more grateful, and more connected than ever.