Remember the board game Memory? It had a bunch of tiles all with the same artwork on the back and a different picture on the front. There were always two of each picture. To play, all the tiles were laid face down in any order, and on your turn, you had to turn over two tiles. If they matched, you got to keep the tiles and go again. If they didn’t, it was the next person’s turn. You had to pay attention to all the little details of what every player’s turn was. What was the picture? Where was it located? Because when it was your turn, you had to remember every little detail so you could find a matching pair.
I used to be good at that game. As I get older, I’m not so sure I am anymore. I have a hard time remembering things, especially people’s names. Romans 16 encourages me to do better though. Paul, in writing this letter to the church at Rome has now reached the part of his letter to “wrap things up”. And, he addresses anyone and everyone he can think of … by name: Phoebe, Priscilla, Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Apelles, Aristobulus, Herodion, Narcissus, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, Philologus, Julia, Nereus, Olympas. How encouraging it would be to them that Paul, in all his travels, and all of his adventures, and dangers in carrying the Gospel everywhere would remember them specifically! It happens because Paul spent time with these people. He knew them. He knew all about them… and he cared.
So, what’s the lesson? We should know each other that well. We should know our brothers and sisters in Christ from other places better. We should care. The more time we spend together, the more we learn that we are all on this journey together and knowing each other and encouraging one another makes every day and every hardship and every reward just a little bit better.