Hello! Today we come to the end of the book of Galatians, a book that we have discovered is enormously strong theologically and as some of you commented on at our Zoom discussion, freeing, to know that all it takes to be good with God is to trust God. In this final section of Galatians, Paul once again faces the issue of circumcision and "false" missionaries. So clearly we can gather that Paul both made many friends and many enemies along his travels. I'll share some more thoughts specific to Galatians 5: 1-12 down below as that stuck out to me the most but what will stick out to you? Let me know! :)
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
Paul writes that true freedom does not lead to self-indulgence but instead freedom should drive you to become slaves to one another in service. Do you agree with this? How could this reasoning apply to our personal vs collective opinion about the handling of the pandemic, masking, vaccines, etc.
The beautiful prose of "the fruits of the spirit" are found in these closing sections. What steps have you taken to try to bear these types of fruits while pruning the fruits of the flesh?
The end of the letter has a tone of tension between Paul and the church in Galatia (lack of a thanksgiving in the opening and closing and Paul's "See what large letters I make when I am writing" give way to slight anger by the apostle. When, if ever, do you think anger is appropriate in mending relationships?
- Commentary -
Alrighty buckle in ladies and gents as we have some paraphrased commentary for Galatians 5: 1-12. In this section Paul passionately (and with frustration) argues against the need for circumsicion to be a part of Christ's church. There is a good word of gospel here for us in a modern context to consider. Paul is saying that there are no dues to be a part of the church, that there is no package deal, that there is no way of "buying" your way into a deeper love with God. The likely argument that the missionaries were making is something along the lines of "fine, fine, you can be a Christian and not be circumcised, but if you do you can be a more committed or a better Christian if you join the circumcised club. Paul fights this with strong language saying that there are no "tiers" to God's love - it is for all. But not all churches follow this logic. We often honor and praise our highest givers with plaques, dedications, awards, fancy dinners, and other crap. Another slippery slope is the push that true discipleship requires an evolution in commitment. Going from attending, to participating in a group, to leading a group, etc. I FULLY support this but the reality is less utopian as the numbers show that 20% of people do 80% of the work around the church. When we encourage people to join groups, leads groups, serve on teams, and participate in church we're saying "you can be a more committed Christian" if you do these things. But, if don't help put up the boundaries we can over tax people too. This applies not only to church leadership but to those of you who manage households, businesses, or volunteers. You can absolutely buy your way into fame and opportunities but you cannot buy your way into God's love.
Secondly, I like this reading because its one of the few human moments we see from Paul as is a wee bit hypocritical in these verses. First he says "we need to strive for faith working through love (for your neighbor)" and then turns around and lashes out saying "I hope these false missionaries "castrate themselves!" Haha! Alright, Paul, tell us how you really feel. I love these moments in scripture because they show that even the Christian heroes of the faith are not these perfect monks of peace and grace, but people that get hurt and hurt others too. So, if you have hurt someone...go in peace and know that God loves you. If you have been hurt, go in peace knowing that God sees your pain and loves you. We all will stumble along the way but we're never discounted from the cross of Christ.
Praying the Hymns
Our hymn for today is "O Sons and Daughters, Let us Sing!" I invite you to center yourself for today by joining in the chorus of praise and thanksgiving for the ways God has blessed our lives and enriched our souls to be a blessing to others.
(did you really think I wouldn't use a kings choir version if I had the chance ;) )
1 O sons an earths, let us sing! The King of heaven, the glorious King, o'er death today rose triumphing. Alleluia! Alleluia!
2 That Easter morn at break of day, the faithful women went their way to seek the tomb where Jesus lay. Alleluia! Alleluia!
3 An angel clad in white they see, who sat and spake unto the three, “Your Lord doth go to Galilee.” Alleluia! Alleluia!
4 That night the apostles met in fear; amidst them came their Lord most dear, and said, “My peace be on all here.” Alleluia! Alleluia!
5 On this most holy day of days our hearts and voices, Lord, we raise to thee, in jubilee and praise. Alleluia! Alleluia!
6 When Thomas first the tidings heard, how they had seen the risen Lord, he doubted the disciples’ word. Alleluia! Alleluia!
7 “My pierced side, O Thomas, see; my hands, my feet, I show to thee; not faithless but believing be.” Alleluia! Alleluia!
8 No longer Thomas then denied; he saw the feet, the hands, the side; “Thou art my Lord and God,” he cried. Alleluia! Alleluia!
9 How blest are they who have not seen, and yet whose faith hath constant been, for they eternal life shall win. Alleluia! Alleluia!