In the opening sentence of Paul’s greeting, he identifies himself as a servant of Christ. Few of us would likely identify ourselves as servants, given any other options. A disciple? Yes. A prophet? Maybe. But a servant? Really?

Reading the Romans text with twenty-first-century eyes, we may find that the idea of being a servant of Christ runs against the grain of our culture. “Servanthood” does not make it onto very many lists of life goals! Yet Paul employs it as his first self-reference. His identification with the lowliness of a servant speaks to his yielding himself in service to another, One greater than himself.

There is a show on television called Undercover Boss. Presidents or CEOs of large companies work among the least of the workforce: lower level managers, line workers, minimum wage people. The bosses hear all the complaints, struggles, and hopes of the staff as they work alongside their employees. They learn the effort, care, repetition, and tedium of the work many on the margins do. But few of us are interested in learning through such acts of lowliness.

The birth of Jesus represents a great reversal in the universe. In such reversal, the master becomes the servant and the servant becomes the teacher—and the last is first. In Christ, holiness, divinity, and glory hide under the cover of human flesh as Jesus comes with power from on high in the life of a little baby swaddled and held. Serving Christ and serving alongside Christ in the bearing of good news by offering grace and peace to the world is Paul’s hope for the Romans.

In this Advent season often tainted in consumerism and greed, ask yourself, “Am I ready to be part of the great reversal the world is hoping for?”

Lord, make me a servant. Help me to be like you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 1:18-25

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Lectionary Week
December 16–22, 2019
Scripture Overview

Isaiah is sent to the king of Judah to declare a prophecy of a future birth through a virgin. The boy will be called Immanuel, “God is with us.” The psalmist cries out to God asking for an end to the suffering of the people. He believes that this will occur through a “son of man,” an expression that Jesus later uses to describe himself. Paul’s opening to Romans roots the gospel in the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus comes from the line of David and fulfills the things foretold. To understand Jesus, we must understand the Hebrew scriptures. Matthew recounts the visitation of an angel to Joseph to tell him of the coming birth of a son. Matthew interprets this birth as a fulfillment of this week’s reading from Isaiah 7.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 7:10-16. How does Isaiah’s prophecy continue to speak to you today? How do you hope for Christ’s coming?
Read Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. Recall a time when you have relied on hope for God’s restoration.
Read Romans 1:1-7. What would it mean to add “servanthood” to your list of life goals?
Read Matthew 1:18-25. How is your life different for having listened to God’s call?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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