1 Kings 8:22-53
In our worship services at Bethel, recently, we have had two Sundays in a row with special titles: on May 15th, it was “Pentecost,” and on May 22nd, it was “Trinity.” These two special Sundays close out the part of the church-year which began with Lent, back in February.
In the season called Lent, we worked on preparing our hearts for the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Then came Holy Week. It began with Palm Sunday, waving palm branches as Jesus came riding into Jerusalem. As that week went on, we also remembered Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples; his trial, crucifixion and death; and then his glorious resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Seven weeks of Easter-tide followed, in which we continued to confront the reality that Jesus Christ did not stay dead, but is alive now and forever. On May 5th and the Sunday that followed, we remembered that the risen Christ left his disciples and ascended into heaven.
The Day of Pentecost always comes fifty days after the Jewish Passover, which Christians observe during Holy Week. On the Day of Pentecost, we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ followers who were gathered in Jerusalem as he told them to do. The arrival of the Holy Spirit is the “Birthday of the Church.”
Finally, there is Trinity Sunday, an old tradition, meant to kind of “tie a bow” on the period which began with Lent. Trinity Sunday is a moment when we may take stock of the mysterious and complex ways that God got involved with the human race in the story of Jesus Christ. Worshiping the Holy Trinity, God understood as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, distinguishes us Christians from other faiths. We not only recognize God as the Creator, but also God Who came to be with us in human form as Jesus Christ, and God Who continues to work in and among and through us as the Holy Spirit. All of these “persons” of God together make Christianity a living, eternal faith path.
Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
tell of His salvation from day to day.
Galatians is acknowledged by nearly all serious scholars as an authentic letter from Paul. The New Testament is mostly made up of writings that reflect Paul’s interpretation of Jesus Christ’s being and meaning. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians gives us a rich and fascinating view into his faith.
Galatia was a province of the Roman Empire where Paul had preached. Certainly there were Jews in Galatia, but Paul’s letter is addressed to people there who were not Jewish, but who had chosen to abandon their other gods and follow Jesus Christ.
Paul begins his letter by wishing them “Grace and Peace.” This is a pastoral custom which I myself have adopted. It links the ancient Jewish prayer for one another’s “shalom” – peace – with a prayer that the grace of Jesus Christ will rest with the flock. No doubt, Paul sincerely cared for them.
But then, immediately, Paul expresses severe disappointment with the Galatian flock: they have allowed themselves to be drawn away from the Good News which Paul had given them: “You are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
In the weeks to come, we will strive to share the Good News of Jesus Christ clearly and truly.