Isaiah 22:1-24:23; Galatians 2:17-3:9; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 23:15-16
Called to Live
Thank God for the church who does not leave us alone to sit in our chairs, read passages like the one assigned today from Isaiah, and decide that we might as well “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” The desolation that God brings upon the earth is so complete in Isaiah’s prophecy that all seems to be lost.
And there is where the church comes in, and pairs this difficult reading from Isaiah with the hope of Psalm 60, “O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry now restore us!”—and restore us God does!
Jesus not only becomes one of us, but in the sacrifice of His life, Christ lives in us—with us, in us, around us, above us, through us. Christ is alive. And if Christ is alive, then hope is alive and strong and can save us from any trouble, from any stumble, and restore us from any fall.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul’s words yell at us from the page. They are strong and insistent that we get it, get the truth that what we were and indeed what we are—whether perfect or flawed, whole or broken—matters not. What matters is that Christ lives in us, in the hope that we must reflect to the rest of the world.
This means that we must not dwell on our physical infirmities, our relationship difficulties, our financial insecurities. When someone asks you how you are, answer, “I am alive!” Eat, drink and be merry, you who are filled with Christ, for tomorrow you live!
The Rev. Alison P. Harrity
St. Richard’s Episcopal Church
Isaiah 19:1-21:17; Galatians 2:1-16; Psalm 59:1-17; Proverbs 23:13-14
Little Decisions, Big Consequences
Rarely do we know the full consequences of our decisions. We don’t get a reset button that would allow us to play it again and see how things might have been different, like Bill Murray’s character in the movie, “Groundhog Day.” But sometimes hindsight allows us to take a good guess.
In retrospect, one of the most important decisions made by the early church was on the question of circumcision, and Paul emphasized it again in today’s lesson from Galatians. Should those non-Jews who came to faith in Jesus be circumcised or not? At issue was the much larger question, “Is following Jesus a subset of Judaism, or a new way to be reconciled to God that does not require Jewish observance?” Does one, in essence, have to go through Judaism to get to Jesus?
Had the answer been in the affirmative, we might be worshiping on Saturday and celebrating Hanukkah and Yom Kippur. On the surface of it, that might not be a bad thing. However, along with that would have come the whole Jewish law and the burden to keep the law in order to be accepted by God. That would have nullified Jesus’ death on the cross and, I suspect, the church would have simply been re-absorbed into Judaism within a couple of generations.
But, thanks to the efforts of Paul (and, no doubt, some others), Jesus’ death on the cross remained the central and defining element of Christian faith and devotion.
The Rev. Eric Turner