“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all…” Romans 10:12 (New Revised Standard Version)
After living abroad in Peru for more than a year, I slowly started to integrate into local culture. Despite language barriers, within a year many of the transitions and challenges of being “new” were established: housing, utilities, internet connections, getting a car, navigating driving routes, meeting new colleagues and friends, locating grocery shops and soon a regular hair salon and dentist. Imagine communicating utility set up by phone in Spanish after only 3 months at language school. My brain would hurt for the work of communicating in Spanish, especially in that first year. Somewhere within my second year, though, I started to feel that communication was easier, I had adapted to the new reality and new normal. I knew I made progress when I even started using the subjunctive verb tense (the “might”, “could”, “would”) in daily conversation. But even with improved language, and feeling settled in my new home and country, that feeling of fitting in was only illusory. There were still many differences such as my height, hair colour, eye colour, in addition to underlying world-views, politics and belief systems that continued to reveal some difference. But those differences do not mean, or should not mean, that one life is more valued than another. But, this week in the US news, posters from protestors suggested that some lives should be sacrificed (one read “Sacrifice the Weak”) in the Covid-19 pandemic in order that the U.S. economy be re-opened.
In contrast, God values all life. God is generous and does not make the distinctions we make. In God’s eyes, we are all valued, precious, worthy, loved, and included in the radical ways that God offers unconditional love and grace for all.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds the church of this: that while there are differences among believers, particularly because of circumcision, social status, even ethnic background, these distinctions are not important to God. They do not influence the amount of forgiveness and grace that God offers, nor do those distinctions influence God’s mind in who is valuable or not. In God’s eyes there is no distinction. The radical grace of God is seen in Jesus’ death and resurrection for all, so that sin, death, distinction and difference are conquered and all have a place of belonging in God’s boundless grace.
God of resurrection, some want the kind of difference that will secure a special place in society. Some want distinctions of wealth and class, so that their health and their life is valued over and above another. Forgive this attitude, O God. Remind us, again, that You bestow Your love and grace to all. Remind us that in the cross of Christ, there is forgiveness, grace, redemption from all that we do to try and exclude or limit others. In You, there is life and hope and this is a gift for all, regardless of the differences we see. Help us to live this grace and inclusivity, to value all life the way you do, for we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.