July 18th, 2021 – 8th Sunday after Pentecost
Note about Virtual Bulletin: This is a shortened form of what gets emailed (if I have your email) and what is passed out with the bulletin on Sunday. I take out the very congregation specific info. If you want to ensure you get that, please contact me with your email.
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF: July 19th – July 25th
Mon-Mon.……………… Pastor’s Vacation (Stay Mon-Wed, Out of Town Thur-Sun)
Mon……………………. 6:00pm Women’s Group
Wednesday…………….. 7:30pm Church Council
Thursday: ……………… 10:00am NO Bible Study
Sunday: …………………. 10:00am Worship
11:00am Bible Study
Devotion & Prayer Thought
One of the cheats to following Paul’s letters is often to look for the prepositions or transition words, like “therefore” or “since” or “so then”. Right before our Epistle lesson today Paul has restated what for me is a better gospel in a nutshell than John 3:16. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Therefore…
What Paul says today rests on that statement of the gospel. And what he speaks about is a new unity. The world was once divided into Jews and Gentiles. And this type of division was not unique then and continues to be common. There were Greeks and Barbarians. From what I have been told there are “Han” which means “the people” in China and everyone else. The United States certainly thinks of itself as a country set apart. Each “tribe, people, language and nation” has “dividing walls of hostility” that are maintained by law, ordinance and culture. Now Paul maintains that the Jewish law is special in this regard in that the Jews through Abraham also had the covenant of promise. But by both the Jewish law and every other law, everyone was once cut off from God. But in his flesh Christ has broken down these walls. Christ is our peace. He has made things that were natural enemies one in himself. All of mankind’s laws died when Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Those who were near and those who were far have all been called to the foot of the cross to be reconciled to God. What is divided by the fallen nature of creation has been united in one Christ, the firstborn of the new creation.
“So then…”. What does it mean that we have been united in Christ? You who have been united to Christ, Jews and Greeks, Greeks and Barbarians, Americans and foreigners, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens. You are citizens together with all the saints, and you are members of the household. More than just fellow citizens, you are brothers and sisters, because Christ has joined us. Yes, this world and its laws will continue to separate, maybe even with hostility. But this world is passing away. To be part of Christ is to be freed from those separations and to grow together into a holy temple of the Spirit. God has made his dwelling place here, with you, and with all who have been called to the foot of the cross for that peace. There are many things that divide us. But in the church, these all disappear at the foot of the cross. And not the least because none of us gathered here has done anything to deserve it. The unity is a gift that flows from the grace of God which we receive by faith. May we learn to live out this faith and to live into this unity in the bonds of peace.
- Thurs 10am: Galatians, come join us! (But not this week.)
- Confirmation: Returns in September
- Life Application Fellowship (LAF): Returns in September
- Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
- Catechism Moment: Lord’s Prayer. If you didn’t get it in your inbox, let me know please!