Luke A. Powery is dean of the chapel and associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke University.
For this Sunday's Living by the Word column, I focused on the theme of hospitality in the reading from Romans.
For my own sermon on this text, I almost went with the title "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"
The apostle Paul reminds the church at Rome how to live in community inside and outside the church. This is not the exuberant rhetorical surplus we find in 1 Corinthians 13, but love is still Paul's guiding principle.
The church is still uncomfortable with human bodies. It does little to promote the rich connection between bodies and Christian spirituality.
Paul uses "body" as a metaphor, and contemporary Christians do the same when we say "the body of Christ." This metaphorical usage generally takes precedence in the church’s practice.
Bodies matter for Paul. And they matter for Christian discipleship. Paul foregrounds the human body as critical for the Christian response to God's mercy.