July 3rd, 2022 – 4th Sunday after Pentecost
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF: July 4th – July 10th
Monday………………. Independence Day
Tuesday………………. 7:00 PM Elders Meeting
Thursday………………. 10:00 AM Bible Study
Sunday: …………………. 10:00 AM Worship
11:15 AM Bible Study
Sometimes the Sacred calendar and the secular calendar throw off fruitful juxtapositions. July 4th is American Independence Day: fireworks, John Phillips Sousa and the Spirit of ’76. It is everything that we hope America can be. In the same week we have Isaiah, the prophet who wrote what is often called the 5th gospel. If the Spirit of ’76 is the desire for liberty, you could say the same thing about Isaiah. But the definitions of liberty are quite different. Modern American liberty is self-determination. It is military savvy. It is the first and second amendment freedoms to worship what I want or don’t, to say what I want, and to defend myself. Isaiah’s liberty is the Freedom of the Christian. God has chosen you and claimed you and set you free from sin, death and the power of Satan. You are free to serve your Righteous King, the branch of Jesse, the suffering servant. The Founding Fathers of the United States were closer in their understanding of liberty to Isaiah than our often jingoistic reception of them. The fruits of liberty are to serve the right, not to wallow in libertinism.
PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION
The endings of Paul’s letters are always a bit strange to me. Having completed his main argument, in Galatians the law free gospel or salvation by grace alone through faith alone, Paul turns to practical things. Some scholars assume that in the background are letters or reports received by Paul with questions or things troubling the church. And Paul closes his letters with responses to such questions.
You can imagine a question like: Paul, what do we do when someone who claims to be part of our fellowship is publicly flouting the teaching in sinful ways? “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6:1).” You who are spiritual? Probably the elders of the congregation. Spirit of Gentleness? Don’t rush to kick them out or relish it, but it must be addressed.
Paul, what do we do about those who are chronically in some kind of trouble? “Bear one another’s burdens…for each will have to bear his own load.” Thanks Paul. But it might make more sense than it seems. We are part of the same family, but even families know that you can only help those who want the help. We have a personal responsibility to examine ourselves, just as we have a duty of love to our neighbor.
Paul, how much do we Pay the minister? “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” Paul, what about that person who leans into your law free gospel making grace seem very cheap? “Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked…if you sow to the flesh, from the flesh you reap corruption, but sow to the Spirit and reap eternal life.” That person may feel they are “getting away with it”, but know that they are not. But Paul, that makes the Christian life pretty tough, because the first charge is always hypocrisy? “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap.” We can’t control what others do, but we can control ourselves. Continue in the way, and trust the Lord to provide the harvest.
But then sometimes you just enter the mystery. “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” What is that about? Some say it is the mystical stigmata, but why that would be the basis for such a command I’m not sure. More likely: Paul, there are people here still questioning your apostleship, what do we say to them? Point them at the wounds like in 2 Corinthians 11:23ff, “Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one– I am talking like a madman– with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death…”. Does someone without a call suffer these things? That is what Luther in his Great Galatians commentary points at.
The problems of life together are more common across the ages that we might think. Paul is still questioned as being an authentic Christian. Many wish to pit Jesus vs. Paul. We keep falling into the same sins, age after age. But the gospel remains for sinners. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit brothers. Amen.”
- Thurs 10am: “The Necessary Bible Stories to Know Our Own Story” – Ruth
- Confirmation: Completed Year 1, return in the Fall
- Life Application Fellowship (LAF): Summer Break
- Sunday Morning: Going to continue with the Psalms for a Season. Come Join Us in the prayer book of the Bible.
- Catechism Moment: Short Break