Archive for category #saveus

Galatians 3:27-29 Mortar is to Bricks as Christ is to Us

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. [NRSA: Galatians 3:27-29]

It is important for us to know some context of this area. More of a recognized state or region of the people who have Greek and Roman heritage. Thus, making it a place of blended culture and religions.

The region in what we now know as central and southern Turkey was in Paul’s time known as the region of Galatia. Historically a Greek formation, the Celts, were later occupied by the Roman empire in our period of the Apostle Paul and his missionary work in this area. It was more than a city, but rather an area with thirteen divisions. It is from the accounts in both Paul’s letter to the Galatians and in Luke’s recording in the Book of Acts, that we learn about this region.

Paul was extraordinarily successful in connecting the know cultures and religions and using those as entry points to show the inadequacies of the local gods with the One, universal God by belief in His Son. Paul is likely to have been building upon some missionary work from Peter and Sillas as his typical approach was to start with the Jewish communities at local synagogues, which were rare in the region of Galatia.

But what of any of this speaks to us?

Paul offers Christ to a diverse and divided culture that has been bouncing through generations of sweeping religious, political, and cultural changes. It is in this context that we see Paul being particularly helpful in transforming devotion into discipleship, and loyalty into faith and belief.

What if the world, the nation? Georgia? North Georgia? Our communities? Or our fellowship was so clothed in Christ, that the first thing we see in one another is Christ.

When you introduce yourself through writing, what is the first detail you would share about yourself?

  • Would it be career?
  • In some type of relationship?
  • Having kids or grands?
  • Would it be gender, or some other physical descriptor?
  • Would it be your hobbies or talents?
  • Most would say it differs by the context.
  1. Facebook: “Human, husband, father, pastor, writer, #humorinlife #foodie #techie #zippermerging #zoomevangelist”
  2. Twitter: “a sinful child saved by Christ, pastor, husband, father, writer, techie, foodie, neighbor, voter looking for humor, and humor in life. clergy.pro
  3. Business Card: “Sharing Christ and the Journey”

And how would you describe Rock Spring in 100 words?

Is their any church that would not consider starting with the words, “We are a friendly church” no matter if we were or were not.

                Many times we are, Sometimes we are not, and sometimes most are friends, but always a handful on any give Sunday are distracted with something else in lives or on their heart.

  • Would we share our missions because we are proud of our accomplishments or how much Christ has done for and through us?
  • Would we list our activities we like or think others would like or how Christ shapes, guides, and challenges us?
  • Would we describe what we enjoy about our worship, or how God is blessed by our praise and fellowship?
  • Would we tell about how easy it is to visit and join, or how much work and devotion it takes to continue growing, serving, and following Christ?

Paul starts reminding the church: You are the baptized in Christ. You are clothed in Christ.

  • Baptism is the sign of our adoption as sons and daughters of God, through and with Christ.
  • Baptism is the moment we celebrate our life being more than our own.
  • Baptism is our joining the family as heirs of the witness, work, and reward that God would bestow.
  • Baptism is our spiritual birth into our heavenly citizenship.
  • Baptism is not just something we hope people have done before they die, it is the belonging-relationship that we celebrate while we are living.

Paul is reminding the church that we are first responders to the fires burning in peoples hearts and minds, we have something better than Kevlar and Nomex, we are clothed with Christ who has died for us and lives for us to be in God, forever.

Paul encourages the church painting the warm quilt of love, faith, and prayer that surrounds us in the cold world, and the from the emptiness of being lost or alone. We are clothes with Jesus Christ who renews and restores and walks with us in all of life and death.

Paul is teaching the church to put on the arm, put on the baptism, put on the quilt, put on the strength, wisdom, and faithfulness of Christ because without it we are wearing the [Emperor’s New Clothes/ ‘naked’] instead that the world is selling as truth, safety, and meaning.

Once we wear the team uniform of Christ we are no longer divided; we become united in Christ.

If we are clothed by opinions, ideologies, data-points, peer-reviewed conclusions: all these change for day to day and as the context and balance of power shifts in the world. We are clothed in the life of Christ, don’t forget, don’t let go, don’t exchange it.

Think of all the descriptors in our lives: We rally around being in different camps: bulldogs, hound dogs, elephants, eagles, tigers, lookouts, Biscuits, owls, gophers, moccasin shoe, pickles, and our family favorite: Mighty, Fighting Okra from Delta State in Cleveland, Mississippi.

We divide up by age groups: Gen Z, Millennials or Gen Y, Gen X, Boomer, WW2ers, Depressists. They all sound terrible. But we try to make generation distinctions to hopefully better understand when we actually labeling and dividing people with names.

The is one race. We are humans. We have different cultures, pigments of skin color, and varieties of traditions and assessments of our identities as individuals and groups. We are all creations of God’s handiwork, created, loved, and saved by God.

  • We have some shared features, but all have different fingerprints, and DNA markers that show God creates, not simply to mass produce, but value us one at a time, here is our weakness and strength.
  • We are free to choose to love God or run from God. But living and seeking God acknowledges our questions, failures and fears and ability, through the grace in Christ, we have a way together, in Christ.
  • We are valued by God both 1) the unique person we are and 2) the whole fellowship we become in Christ.

This week’s realization: The following is not politically bias: In the most recent weeks, I have had more occasions to speak with people who are anti-church, anti-religion, religious in practice-but not thriving in spiritual fruitfulness. I offer a both/and observation. There are flaws in our country, but we continue to be the nation that immigrants desire to leave their home to live. There are divided opinions and bias news surrounding us from every side, but other nations continue to turn to us for support, technology, and protection. There laws that need to be added and improved, but our system of government has built a nation that can welcome, respond, and adapt because it is a both/and relationship: Holding fast to our roots AND continues to amend our flaws.

Paul is telling a region of none Jewish people to believe in a God who is working through the Jew’s messiah, Jesus, God’s Son, to bring hope, meaning, salvation, love, power, grace, and is continuing this work through ALL who are baptized and clothed with Christ. Not destroying the framework but building upon it the work of the church, that whole world may know God through us.

Whether is to church OR state, the foundations have provided the framework, that without it we would not have the opportunities we enjoy today.

  • The State will never love us, only use or appease us.
  • The state will never be our salvation.
  • The State will never die that we might live, rather calling us to suffer for its life.
  • Remember who’s uniform you have been saved to wear?
  • Remember which team that has died for you?
  • Remember it Christ that truly unites us and not common law, identity, or opinion.
  • Be Not afraid, God is with us. Repeat these words of assurance with me: “Be Not Afraid, God is With us!”
  • Don’t let the worldly division sum up your identity or communities. Be those clothed in Christ.
  • Let the world see Christ, just as they have seen your sport team colors and generational style
  • Let the world look to those who are clothed in Christ, as sinners who are made who by Christ.
  • Let the world see God’s presence in the living our faith and sacrifice to follow and grow.
  • Let the world see in this context, this time in history, the eternal love and power of Christ today!
  • Be Not afraid, God is with us. Repeat these words of assurance with me: “Be Not Afraid, God is With us!”

In his letter to the Galatians, he appeals directly to their well-known love of freedom and independence (5:1) and repeatedly contrasts freedom of the spirit through Christ with the slavery offered by pursuing worldly pleasures. He even specifically cites behavior and sins long associated with the Galatians such as jealousy, drunkenness, liberal sexuality, and idolatry (5:19-20) and contrasts these with the freedom from vice and corruption offered by Christianity (5:22-24). His appeals worked well, and the Galatians were converted, exchanging Sabiazos’ and Cybele’s protection for that of Jesus Christ. Herm notes that “the Christian communities under the jurisdiction of the Drunemeton were among the oldest founded” by Paul and Galatia grew into one of the most vital Christian centers of the region (43).

The Galatians by this time were almost thoroughly Hellenized and had further substituted their Celtic-Greco customs with Roman beliefs and attitudes. Christianity replaced their old religion, and the temples were turned into churches. This same paradigm was repeated, with the addition of military force, following the Muslim Invasion of Anatolia in 830 CE when the populace was converted to Islam and churches became mosques. By this time, there was little left of the original Celtic-Greco culture of Galatia. Its name survives today primarily through the biblical epistle of St. Paul and, possibly, the suburb of Galata outside of Istanbul, Turkey. [Mark, J. J. (2019, October 24). Galatia. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/galatia/%5D

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Psalm 80 “Restore Us”

Restoration

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved. O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved [NRSA]

Let the congregation say it again: “O God of heaven, let your face shine, that we may be saved, amen!”

The Psalm is a song of lament and a confession of sin, as well as a prayer for salvation.

how long we have we babe know sorry, fear, separation, defeat, calamity, trouble and loss. We have cried so among tears, they are our drink.

how long have we been seen as less than enough, how long have we been taken advantage, how long have we been the butt of the joke and ‘that’ ring or on our road or street?

how long have our enemies had more than we have had, how long have we been defeated, belittle and bullied? How long have we lived by our enemies standards and expectations?

now is the time to call upon the lord. Now the day for us to remember who’s family we belong. Now is the season for us to turn to Gods power, as we have found ourselves broken and powerless.

These are the word of lament.
These are the words of confession.
What is left to be done?

The Congregation calls for God to show up.
the congregation calls for God to shine upon their darkness and brokenness.

Come Lord with your mighty presences.
We need to see you face.
We need you to be with us, here and now

The call in this act of worship is for God to shine his presence, his might and his light on our darkness, fear, shame and selfishness…

we could never have done enough, know enough, worshipped enough, we are not enough, without you or God…come Show up and restore us.

This is the congregation crying out for what we already know and find in Jesus Christ.

The worshipers would gather in the temple cry out to God. “ O God of Heaven, Let your face shine, and save us.
People were ask for the tangible, physical, powerful presence of God to be present and to restore them from their sin.

Jesus, as Messiah, was not a surprise nor and afterthought of God, even way back then people knew from life’s of emptiness and brokenness that only God could show up to save us…

this is the good news of Christmas!

God is showing us Gods glory, power and life for us to be saved, restored, redeemed and made wholle.

“I don’t need anything for Christmas” not true!
I need Jesus to shadiness his face upon us and make us new and that becomes our peace, joy, love and faith.

another way to say, Lord of Heaven, give me your mighty power that I might be renewed, save, rekindled, for you and your glory, not mine but your.

This is the Christmas gift we seek, and share.. Merry Christmas and may Christ save and restore you today!

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