Who is welcome in Church? For the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Rev. Geoff McKee looks at this recurring theme through Paul’s letter to the Church in Galatia. We must not only believe that, in Christ, the old has fallen away and the new creation is emerging but demonstrate that too. We live in a remarkably diverse community and God is calling us from insular preoccupation to generous fellowship.
Galatians 6:1-16 (New International Version)
Doing Good to All
6 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Not Circumcision but the New Creation
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.
During our holiday in Seville in March, Annie and I visited the Maestranza bull ring.
It is said that it is the most beautiful bull ring in Spain, second in importance only to Madrid.
It houses a museum in tribute to the history of bull fighting in Spain. It has pictures and photographs of legendary bull fighters and specimens of their extravagant capes in display cases. It is full of colour and glamour but it cannot hide the unsavoury fact that much cruelty and some tragedy has occurred within its walls over the years. Many bulls have been needlessly sacrificed in a cruel way and some of the lauded matadors have lost their lives too.
José Cubero, one of Spain’s most brilliant matadors, only 21 years old, had been enjoying a spectacular career. However, in a 1958 bullfight, José made a tragic mistake. He thrust his sword a final time into a bleeding, delirious bull, which then collapsed. Considering the struggle finished, José turned to the crowd to acknowledge the applause. The bull, however, was not dead. It rose and lunged at the unsuspecting matador, its horn piercing his back and puncturing his heart. He died instantly.
Just when we think we’ve finished off pride…
Just when we turn to accept the congratulations of the crowd, pride stabs us in the back.
We should never consider pride dead before we are. [Read more…]