What I’m Reading Today: Romans 6-7
For the last several weeks, I have anxiously been awaiting the release of the movie “The Lovely Bones”. I’ve been looking forward to it because I admire the work of Director Peter Jackson, and I like actor Mark Wahlberg a great deal. So on opening night last night Mike and I went.
In case you are wondering what I thought of the film, I can honestly tell you I enjoyed the film a great deal. In talking about the movie afterwards, however, I realized the story is not for everyone. In addition to dealing with tough issues like the murder of a child, the film is challenging because it presents a different understanding of what it means to have “a happy ending”.
You see lots of us expect that the phrase “happy ending” means things resolve themselves exactly the way we think they should. We project our thoughts, our likes/dislikes, our preferences from the past and present into the future. If they line up, we walk away thinking the story has a happy ending; if they don’t line up, we feel dissatisfied. The challenge with “The Lovely Bones” is that things aren’t neatly tied up at the end of the movie; things resolve themselves in unexpected ways. That can be difficult to live with.
I was reminded of this as I read Romans 6-7 today. In that material, Paul talks about the move from a life of sin/death to a life of grace/freedom. A piece that struck me about this move was contained in Romans 6:4-5: “When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land” (from The Message). The thing that most struck me here was the final phrase – “a new life in a new land”. It reminds me that we can’t simply project our past and present into the future when it comes time to step into our new faith lives – we have to be open to truly opening ourselves to the new. And new doesn’t always mean easy or comfortable. New simply means new.
If someone would have told me when I began fully opening myself to “a new life” ten years ago that it would mean packing things up; leaving behind a career, family, and friends; moving 1,100 miles away to attend seminary; and serving two parishes 1,200 miles apart - I would have laughed in the person’s face. I would have wanted nothing to do with what I would have perceived of back then as an agonizing series of losses and risks. And yet talk to me today, and I will tell you this new life is the best thing that ever happened to me!
So as you think about the issues of new life and resolutions (or “happy endings”), today I would invite you to consider how open you are to this concept of “new life”. Til next time…