Romans 16 is kind of like the credits at the end of the movie. I’m tempted to walk out of the theater at the end of chapter 15 but I hang in there just in case there’s a blooper reel or a teaser for the next installment. Maybe there will be a secret little gem that only those who stay to the end will see.
I had to ask google about the lists of people and here’s what I found out: Pheobe was the mail woman, the next group were the Romans that Paul knew personally and was saying “hey” to. The second group was Paul’s personal team. Now we know about these folks 2 millennia after they left the earth.
I have my own list. A list of people I pray for every time I sit down and read my bible.
It started with one guy I used to work with. I found out he was struggling with some stuff and I was asked to pray for him. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. I kept adding people. People I thought need a touch from God, people I want to see in heaven with me, my family. my wife Mary made the list, she’s on the bottom of column two. One morning it dawned on me that she needs to be covered in prayer as much or more than the other people in my world. She has to live with me.
There are some Hollywood folks, people from my past, people in the news. All my grand babies are there. There are many friends from work and I pray about the things that they have shared with me. I pray for my neighbors. I don’t know all of their names but God does. I meet and greet when I get a chance.
I had to scribble off one name. He died earlier this year. That was hard.
I have limited myself to one page but I have room on the page for more.
Post script: I originally posted this in 2015. The list I used then wore out, life changed, a lot of the people on my original list I either lost touch with or they died then the list started to fray and fall apart so I wrote a new list. I learned the names of almost every person on my block and I prayed for them. But my prayers started getting stale, and I feared that they may have been becoming “vain repetition“ which Jesus warned about so I haven’t been praying through the list every day. I now have moved to a new neighborhood and I am challenged to learn about my new neighbors, their names and their needs. One of our old neighbors is a new neighbor, the family that lived across the street from us has now moved just down the street from our new house and Mary are excited that we get to continue our friendship with them.
The challenge of a list not to let it become words on a page, but to keep it about the people because Jesus loves the people, all the people of the world.