Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Thursday prior to Proper 8

Galatians 5:1, 13–25—We Americans are justly jealous of our freedoms; they were won and preserved at great cost. But, with freedom comes responsibility. As Christians, we have received an even greater freedom—freedom from the curse of the Law. With this freedom also comes great responsibility—the responsibility to use our freedom in service to God and neighbor. The only way we are able to do this is to be led by the Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Christian freedom is living by the Spirit

Today’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians is an explanation of the proper meaning of freedom for the Christian. In the opening verse, Paul pleads with believers to remain free and to avoid taking back “the yoke of slavery” meaning the burden of obeying the former laws, rites, and rituals. Then the explains that freedom is being servants of one another through love and proceeds to list what characteristics are part of this Christian freedom.   

Paul uses vivid imagery in V. 15 “bite,” “devour,” “consume,” especially appropriate to the dog-eat-dog world we often describe ourselves as living in today.

Flesh” V.16 of course, is not “the body” but rather, “the sin power in the body” (human rebellion against God.) It is the corrupted human nature. This is especially evident from the ear-filing catalog of sins mentioned in Vv. 19-21, some of which are clearly sins of the mind rather than sins of the body; emulations and envying for example.  

“Faith” V.22 is better translated “fidelity” or “faithfulness.” “Temperance” in V. 23 had a broader meaning than the world has today. Modern usage so often restricts the word to the proper use of alcohol, yet it is the Holy Spirit’s intention that we apply the word to all areas of life; food, pleasure, work, emotion, etc.

Mention of Christ in V. 24 calls to Paul’s mind His crucifixion, leading Paul to state one of his favorite concepts (See Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 2:20), namely, that we Christians share in Christ’s crucifixion. Incidentally, there is a possible tie-in between the concept and the circumcision (Vv 2-12) advocated by some of Paul’s readers. Circumcision of literal flesh is not needed; no. But crucifixion of the flesh, i.e. the body of sin; is needed, yes! Paul’s proposal, in a sense, is more revolutionary than that of his readers. Paul does them one better.

Collect for Thursday of the week of Pentecost 3Almighty and Holy Spirit, the comforter, oure, living true – illumine, govern,,, sanctify me, and confirm my heart and mind in the faith and in all genuine consolation; preserve and rule over me so that dwelling in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, I may behold the Lord and praise him with a joyful spirit, and in union with all the heavenly church, Amen – Philip Melanchton [2] -23 June, 2022

[1] The Cross of Christ, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

[2] Collect for Thursday the week of Pentecost 3, For All the Saints, A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol. II © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

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