This weekend brings a change of some of our normal patterns for worship events and places. First UMC will have its Saturday Nite Alive (SNA) service as normal but without Holy Communion; that will be celebrated next weekend. On Sunday morning, First Church will have worship in Estes Park at 10:30 am as part of the community worship service for Riverbend Rally Days. There will be no 11:00 am service at First. Alden UMC will have worship at its normal time and place and we will celebrate Holy Communion that day.
That being said, the readings for SNA and Alden will contain a passage from Galatians and one from the Gospel according to Luke. The Galatians passage (Galatians 6:1-16) speaks to the difficulty of living out the life of faith in the Church and in the world. In this passage Paul names a number of problems that the Church faced in that time 20 centuries ago. He names 1) doing something wrong; 2) spiritual restoration with gentleness; 3) temptation; 4) bearing one another’s burdens; 5) humility; 6) comparing ourselves to others; 7) personal responsibility; 8) gratitude for a teacher’s efforts; 9) reaping what you sow; 10) selfishness; 11) weariness at doing good; 12) working for the good for all of society and especially for those in the household of faith.
Paul likes to make lists of characteristics and traits both ofgood behaviors and of not so good behaviors. The list he has made here in the sicth chapter of Galatians demonstrates just how hard it is to live this life of faith. This life of faith is called many things. It has been called a crucified life, a life in the Spirit, living in eternal life, living in the kingdom of God, a new creation, life in the resurrection, life in the Kingdom of heaven. There are other terms that have been applied to this sort of living in the Spirit of Jesus. But all of the words funnel to one basic idea—love: love God and love neighbor.
As we look at what the Apostle Paul has written in the sixth chapter of Galatians it becomes very clear that, if we tried to do this sort of living on our own, we would soon grow very weary and fail. Only through God’s presence of the Holy Spirit can we ever hope to live such a life of love. I believe that Spirit can only be felt in the faith community. That is where we can find loving, compassionate support and strength. Yet it is clear from Paul’s writings that, even in the community of faith, the Church, it is still hard because of our temptation to take care of ourselves first and second and third and so on. This is what Paul acknowledges about all of us: All have sinned and fallen short of the love of Christ. So he encourages us not to give upon the life of love.
So, what Paul wrote to the members of the church in Galatia almost 2,000 years ago is profoundly applicable to us here and now at any church, anywhere in the world. God has made us a new creation in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul offers peace and mercy to whoever follows this way of the “new creation.” As do I.
Pastor Jeff Blackman