|“Now to him who is able to establish you in |
accordance with my gospel, the message
I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping
with the revelation of the mystery hidden
for long ages past, but now revealed and
made known through the prophetic writings
by the command of the eternal God, so that
all the Gentiles might come to the obedience
that comes from faith—to the only wise God
be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
Sometimes, saying “good-bye” is very difficult. If we love someone very much and he or she is going away for even just a relatively short period of time, it is hard to say good-bye. Part of loving someone and part of caring for that one deeply, creates a longing to remain present with them.
Even when we communicate with someone by letter, or more currently, by text message or by a telephone call, it is sometimes very difficult to end that conversation. I remember as a teenager listening to an acquaintance talk with his girlfriend. Neither one wanted to be the one who ended the call first. Their good-bye lasted at least twenty minutes after they had finished the substance of their conversation.
In one of his A Prairie Home Companion sketches, humorist Garrison Keillor talks about what he calls “The Minnesota Long Good-bye.” Here’s a version from a different comedian of “The Minnesota Long Good-bye”:
The thrust of “The Minnesota Long Good-bye” is that it shows the reluctance of friends parting at the end of some time together. It really is hard to say good-bye.
Imagine now, if you will, the Apostle Paul. He has dictated a letter to the Christians gathered at the seat of the Roman government. He has never had the privilege of meeting with them in person. So, he spends much of his letter outlining the critical points of theology that underpin this new relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of these Roman Christians are former Jews who have believed because of the testimony of those returning from Jerusalem at Pentecost. Others are Gentiles who have been drawn by the Holy Spirit to a belief in the power of the resurrected Christ.
This letter, which has become the Book of Romans in the New Testament, is one of the longer of Paul’s writings. It is a powerful letter. If ever an unbeliever wanted to know what Christianity is all about, this letter certainly spells it out in detail. I particularly like the fact that Paul writes directly to his Jewish brothers in Chapters 9, 10, and 11.
After pouring himself into this epistle, Paul comes to the last chapter and finds himself very reluctant to say good-bye. In response to his deep love for these believers whom he has never met, Paul pens these words, as recorded in Romans 16:25-27:
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
The pronouncement of peace, or benediction, is not only for the Christians gathered in Rome. It also is a gift to us today from this stalwart Apostle. Most of us are some of the very Gentiles whom Paul addresses. And, we can take great comfort from these words of blessing at the end of a critically important letter.
As we move out into this new day, let’s not be ashamed of how difficult it is to say good-bye to those we love and care about. And, let’s remember that our final words of blessing can mean a great deal to those who cross our pathway each day. We can please God and honor Him by sharing words of His peace with those to whom we must say good-bye.