"Bear one another's burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill
the law of Christ." - Galatians 6
(7.7.2019 Monthly Gathering - Lectionary Source: Year C -Track 2, Proper 9)
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
The Reading: Isaiah 66:10-14
Thus says the Lord:
"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her—
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious bosom.
For thus says the Lord:
I will extend prosperity to her like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bodies shall flourish like the grass;
and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies."
The Response: Psalm 66:1-8 *Her Remix
1 Be joyful in God, all you lands;
sing the glory of her Name;
sing the glory of her praise.
2 Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
because of your great strength
your enemies cringe before you.
3 All the earth bows down before you,
sings to you, sings out your Name."
4 Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful she is in her doing toward all people.
5 She turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot,
and there we rejoiced in her.
6 In her might she rules for ever;
her eyes keep watch over the nations;
let no rebel rise up against her.
7 Bless our God, you peoples;
make the voice of her praise to be heard;
8 Who holds our souls in life,
and will not allow our feet to slip.
The Epistle: Galatians 6:1-16
[5:24 …those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another. 6:1 My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.
Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.]
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised-- only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
The Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'
"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Notes + thoughts:
*Liturgy means “the work of the people.” We enter into this work when we enact the scriptures together by reading and discussing them and allowing our lives to be formed by Christ and each other. Like a potluck, we each bring something to the discussion, and there is always enough.
Which passage jumped out at you the most? Why?
What thoughts / questions do you have?
What connections do you see between the readings + life?
What action or change do they invite?
Why was it included in the Bible?
Is there any disconnect between the narrators perspective and our perspective as modern readers?
Lectionary Notes and thoughts
"Bear one another's burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill
the law of Christ." - Galatians 6
It's exhausting to be a Christian.
Saying the words, praying the prayers, singing the songs - that's all very easy - too easy honestly.
The hard part is following Jesus in love and staying open:
Open to the pain
Open to the faces on the news
Open to the cries of migrant children in cages.
Open to the daily news of suffering
Open to the stories of the people upon whom our bombs fall
Open to the oppressed in our own country
Open to the constant need always around us
Open to my neighbor with a different story
Open to those outside my church,
my community, my country
Open to those who are hurt by my choices
Open to the places I still need to grow
Open to those who want to share their pain
Staying open is exhausting - and it is the way of Christ we aspire to together.
1. What exhausts you?
2. What do you struggle to stay open to?
3. How much would “Open” weigh in your life?
4. How can we hold this weight together and encourage each other?
“Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful she is in her doing toward all people…”
- What would it look like to imitate God in wonderful doing toward all people?
”Rejoice with Jerusalem… that you may drink deeply with delight from her…”
The flourishing of survival of the Hebrew people was bound up in the real space they collectively shared. If *Jerusalem* flourished, then her inhabitants would flourish. In this way, to seek the good of Jerusalem as a collective, was to seek the good of all, including yourself. If the rivers were polluted, if dishonest leadership ruled, if soldiers abused their power, then Jerusalem - the source of mutual flourishing - we cease to pour out life for all. If we zoom out, we see that even cities rely on the pale blue dot they are rooted in - to care for the earth and seek its flourishing is to recognize that all of our lives are bound up in her health.
- Discuss: The language of Isaiah 66 reads like an earth day pamphlet with God’s provision flowing through the “bosom” of their geographical home.
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.
This whole section of Galatians flows out of Paul’s contrasting the Holy Spirit’s fruit to the fruit of the “Flesh” - a short hand way of Paul saying the spirit of Cain. Cain killed his brother out of jealousy and founded human civilization (the first city in Genesis 4-5). His spirit of violence and competition has been the standard operating system of humans ever since - but for Paul - Jesus ushered in a new human OS - the Holy Spirit of LOVE and Collective Care.
Our Galatians passage today continues to highlight the differences between the spirits making is clear that if you live in the way of Cain, you should expect Cain like results (violence, rivalry, pain) instead of Kingdom results. The struggle is that living like Christ in a world of Cain means that you are more likely to suffer the same fate as Christ. Thus Paul’s exhortation not be get weary and go back to the way of Cain.
- Discuss: Bearing each other burdens and not growing weary and giving up sound good in theory but are exhausting in practice. How can we do it? What helps you to keep going?
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers few”
I grew up thinking this passage was about evangelism - and in a way it is - the same way a political campaign could be said to be “evangelistic.” Jesus is sending out his delegates as door-knockers for his campaign platform - a whole new way to be human together based on love and mutuality - this “kingdom of God has come near”
This is the table of Christ.
Here we remember God’s love + acceptance for humans.
Here we remember our connection with all humankind.
All are invited to come and eat
You who have much faith + you who have little.
You who have been here often + you who are new.
You who have tried to follow + you who have failed. Come, because Christ has invited us here together.
(*Inspired by Galatians 6, Isaiah 66, and Psalm 66)
Come now and see the works of God,
how wonderful she is in her doing toward all people.
Her eyes keep watch over all the nations,
as a mother comforting her children
Come and join her in this universe of care,
Lifting one-another’s burdens
Opening our hearts to the burdens of all our neighbors,
across the street and around the world.
Come let us carry the burden of love together,
For she who holds our life, will keep our feet secure. Amen.