Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) General Lectionary Reflection Year A, First Service of Easter, New Testament Lesson

Romans 6:3-11: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Reflection on Romans 6:3-11 by John Gibbs Resurrection has to do with relationships. If a person is "raised," then that person is raised "with Christ." If a person is "baptized," then that person is both baptized "into Christ" and his death (6:3, and united with him "in a resurrection like his" (6:5).

These images of death and birth, as descriptions of Christian participation in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, speak metaphorically and analogically about relationships. A Christian who "plays solitaire" through life is a contradiction in terms. One begins the Christian life by being baptized into the Church, the body of Christ. That means, as Paul had written earlier: we are brought into Christís own life of service and humiliation (Phil. 2:5-8). It happens so intimately that "living is Christ" (Phil. 1:21).

To be resurrected is to be brought into a whole new "world" of interrelations. We have all seen "before" and "after" pictures. The "before" pictures show us enslaved to sin, broken relations, the ends of all meaning, and under the "dominion" of death (Rom. 6:4a, 6a, 9b, 10a, 11a). The "after" pictures show us "walking in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4), ourselves being very much "alive" within the resurrected realm into which Christ has brought us. In the "new world" the power of grace (Rom. 6:1, 23) prevails over all the dehumanizations that Paul lists here.

Notice: there is inherent interconnection between Christís power over "all things" and Christís power to transform us (Phil. 3:21). What transforming power is at work on Easter and every day since? It is by means of "the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself" that the Savior transforms us and even conforms us "to the body of his glory." Were it not for the power of Christís cosmic work, and Godís work through Christ to create and to recreate, then the resurrection could not effect transformation within us.

Neither one Christian nor the entire "one holy catholic apostolic Church" was brought into existence within a vacuum. We have come into being through a resurrection that has summoned all the power that at the start brought into being all that is.

The Rev. John Gibbs, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 1999. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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