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God works in surprising ways.

God breaks into the world with amazing love in ways we never would have imagined or expected.

God might surprise you too, if you open your heart with anticipation.

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Listen

From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles.

To those in Rome who are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:1-7

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Think

Do you ever need a reminder that you are loved? I imagine that the members of the church of Rome did from time to time. At the beginning of this long letter, Paul tells them that are loved – not only by him, but by God.

Perhaps more than anyone, Paul knew the power of God’s love and grace. Just a few years before, he spent his days traveling from city to city looking for Christians – so that he could kill them. But God broke through to Saul, now Paul, in a dramatic way, and his life totally changed. Now, he identifies himself as a servant of God and he spends his time sharing the love of Jesus and starting churches.

Paul reminds us that we are called to belong to this God who loved us enough to come to earth and live among us, and that we, like the citizens of Rome, are ALL beloved. May we experience God’s love, grace, and peace as we move into this Christmas week.

Tracy Hartman

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Pray

God, it is easy to forget how much you love me. Help me this week to be watching and waiting for the unexpected ways you might break in to remind me of your love and bring me grace and peace. Amen.

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Go

Now go into the world with hope and anticipation, with your heart wide open to God’s ongoing work in the world.

Tracy Hartman

Tracy Hartman mostly recently served on the faculty of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. She enjoys coaching clergy and serving as an intentional interim pastor. She and her husband Jay live in Richmond, VA.

Still Still Still

Nathan Hanson

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