Lectionary Year A
March 7, 1999
Romans 5:1-11

Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge

(JEA - Smooth Translation)

5:1 Having therefore been put back on the right track and in good standing with God from out of faith's resources we have - or should I say, let us have! - peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 it is through him that we have also had the access [by faith] into this grace in which we have stood and are [presently] exulting at the hope of the glory of God.3 And not only this but also we are exulting in the narrows of life visually reassured as we are that hardship [typically] gives rise to patience, 4 and patience shows forth the durability of God's faithfulness and this in turn hope. 5 And hope does not let us come up short because the love of God is constantly being poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, the one having been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak Christ died - still in the critical hour of his own destiny - on behalf of people without a tether to God; 7 for rarely even on behalf of a righteous cause does anyone die; yes, on behalf of the principle of good maybe someone might even dare to die; 8 but God proves his own love in our lives because while we were still missing the mark Christ died on our behalf. 9 Therefore how much the more having been put back on track now in his blood shall we be delivered through him from wrath. 10 For if while being enemies we were being reconciled to God through the death of his son, how much the more being reconciled shall we be delivered in his life. 11 And not only this but also we are a people who exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom - to be sure - we received [this gift of] reconciliation.

Used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.

Transplant For A Nobody

      Wayne Jerelson was spending a couple of days each week during his summer vacation with street people and the homeless. He wasn't actually out in the streets with them, but more specifically was at the Presbyterian Church two mornings a week helping to prepare breakfast and hand out clean used clothing for the men who ate breakfast and took showers there. The congregation had been in this program for over a year, hoping to help some of the street people and homeless to find jobs and get back into more productive lives.

      Wayne found out about the program when he arrived home from Harvard at the beginning of the summer, and after spending two months in this congregation's outreach program, he learned to know more personally some of the men and their individual situations. While many of them had some physical ailments due to a lack of adequate health care, one man in particular caught Wayne's attention - and his compassion. A man he knew only as Lester was in need of a kidney transplant. The last time he had managed to get attention at the community hospital, doctors there told Lester he would need a transplant within six month or he would die. The six months were now coming to an end. And Wayne learned there was no kidney donor in sight for Lester.

      "You can't be serious!" Wayne's father said to his son at the dinner table. Wayne had just told his father, a wealthy industrialist, that he had decided to donate one of his kidneys to Lester the street person. Lester, the homeless man who hadn't done much productive work in two or three years. "You want to donate one of your kidneys to a tramp!?"

      "I look upon him as a human," Wayne said, trying not to upset his father any more than he already was.

      "Oh yes, he's a human all right," Wayne's father agreed. "But what kind of human? He's dragged himself down in the mud of society; he doesn't work a lick... what do you see in him?"

      "I see a person who needs help," Wayne answered softly.

      They both sat in silence for an embarrassing moment or two. Wayne's father sipped slowly as he finished his glass of wine, as though scouring his mind for just the right words. "Look, Wayne," he began calmly and softly, "I... I... appreciate your concern for people - I really do. You've always had that concern, and perhaps you have much more concern for people than I do; I don't know." He paused, then added, "If this man were a member of the family or a respectful person in society and the work force, I could be more sympathetic with your decision, but... "

      "He is a member of our family," Wayne said with just a bit of stubbornness. "We're all brothers and sisters."

      They both sat silent for another moment, Wayne gazing into his empty coffee cup. Finally his father said, "You know, that idealism of yours can only go so far." He stated it quickly, not critically, still stunned by his son's radical decision.

      "How far should it go?" Wayne asked, not really expecting an answer.

      His father didn't look up as he said, "I don't know... I don't know. It just seems to me that you're risking your life... for what? For whom?"

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