A Special Message from your Pastor

You are set Free

 

In Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia he uses an odd phrase, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”  Paul knew that God’s act of forgiveness was essential for his story.  The saving act of Jesus Christ, became central to Paul’s new understanding of God’s mercy and Grace.  Paul, prior to his life changing encounter with Christ’s Spirit, was a persecutor of the Christian Church.  God’s mercy, God’s love, God’s Grace set Paul free from guilt, blindness, and the shadow of death which was once his life.

Paul reminds the Church that the story of Jesus Christ is a story of freedom.  But it is also a freedom constrained by sacrificial service for God’s Realm.  This was deeply at odds, even contradictory to individualistic notions of freedom.  During the month of July, we will be exploring in worship how this freedom  plays out in our life of faith, through Prayer, meditation,  the study of Scripture, service, and generosity.

 

We will be looking at Paul’s guidance in three parts:

First moral libertinism.  Paul taught a freedom from moral libertinism.  A libertine is one who teaches moral or sexual restraints, especially one who ignores accepted morals and forms of behavior sanctified by  society. Paul urged the gentile Christians in Galatia to resist “enslavement” to certain applications of the Torah—like the rules for food or requirements of circumcision as being necessary for salvation.  This had caused a rift in Antioch (Galatians 3).  These liberating lessons from Paul inform us about the nature of God’s Grace.   However, Paul’s teaching on freedom was misinterpreted by some.  Christians in Corinth who concluded that “we have the right to do anything.”   They were saying that “We can sin all that we want, because God will forgive us all the more.”   Paul said about people who misrepresent the gospel in this way that: “Their condemnation is deserved!” (Romans 3:8).  God’s Grace, forgiveness sets us free so that we can be servants, even slaves, for God’s Realm, We were not set free to commit all the sin or harm that we want.

 

Secondly, Paul taught that God’s Grace sets us free from self-interest.  Though we were “slaves of sin” (6:20), through baptism we are set “free from sin”.  Freedom from self-interest allows us to be “slaves of righteousness” (6:18, 6:20, 6:22).   The greatest commandments are that we love God with all our heart, and love our neighbor as our self.    This is not about personal salvation.  We are not moved by, nor obligated to, observation the law for these reasons.  We know that the law is fulfilled through the Spirit, who brings alive our chance to become a servant for God’s love.

 

And finally, Paul reminds us of our Enslavement to one another.  We are called to serve one another.  We are the body of Christ.   Paul corrected the moral chaos he encountered in Corinth.  Over and over again, the Corinthian Christians interpreted their freedom in Christ individualistically, without regard to the health of the Christian community.  Christian community is our salvation.

 

Paul’s odd statement that “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” is defined as he clarifies his understanding of the relationship between salvation and how we live it out (ethics) in his Epistles.  Join us in the coming month as we explore what it mean to be “set free.”

Ted

Upcoming Sermons and Dates

August Worship

 

 

August 6

Communion

9th Sunday after

Pentecost

“ Small Things & Big Things”

Romans 9: 1-5

Matthew 14: 13-21

 

 

August 13

10th Sunday after Pentecost

“ Believe with your Heart”

Romans 10: 5-15

Matthew 14: 22-33

 

 

 

 August 20

11th Sunday after Pentecost

“ Merciful”

Romans 11: 1-2a, 29-32

Matthew 15: 21-28

 

 

 

August 27

12th Sunday after Pentecost

“ Good Fences”

Exodus 1: 8-2:10

Matthew 16: 13-20

 

Sunday Worship

Cherry Park UMC – 10 am     

 

Internal Guidance

First Lesson: Jeremiah 31:27-34

    27 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. 28 And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:  “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”  30 But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge. Continue Reading →

Authentic Gratitude

First Lesson: Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7

1 These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.   Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; Plant gardens and eat what they produce. Continue Reading →