Last week we examined Paul’s calling by God. As we begin Galatians 2 his call to share the gospel among Gentiles is accepted by the Apostles at Jerusalem. Why do these things matter to us now? Because we have received and share the same gospel that Paul preached and the same Spirit working in Peter and Paul lives in the hearts of believers today. This story is part of our story will continue until Christ returns for his church.
We are beginning a sermon series in Galatians. Paul begins by reminding the Galatian churches that there is no other gospel than the one they received.
“Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” We are invited into a relationship with God the Father, made possible by Jesus the Son. Ideally Christianity creates a healthy relationship but that doesn’t mean it is not a religion. As religions go, Christianity can be just as good or bad as any other. Religion is about what we do, the Gospel is about what Christ has already done.
There are different talents and skills, there are different gifts of the spirit, there are many different tasks to which Christians are called. Each Christian believer has a similar calling, however, to tell others what Christ has done. Whether it’s on stage, in a book or sitting in a coffee shop with one friend at a time, every Christian in some way does the work of an evangelist.
January 6th, the traditional date for celebrating Epiphany, falls on the first Sunday in January this year, a date that many Christians have been observing more recently.
The Christian celebration of Epiphany marks the wise men (Magi) finding Jesus and bowing down to worship. Many of the claims made of the wise men are from church tradition; what little we know of the them from scripture is found in a few verses of Matthew 2. Perhaps we can learn a lesson or two from their ancient wisdom.
Luke 1 offers some prophetic words from Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Zacharias, father of John the Baptist. Both spoke great truths being filled with the Holy Spirit. In Luke 2 we meet two individuals at the Jerusalem temple who again have prophetic words about the baby Jesus.
The angels declared “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.” Is the world at peace? Of course not, but don’t let that stop you from finding peace. We have peace with God and can be at peace in the world that is not.
We light the pink candle, the only brightly colored candle on the advent wreath, and celebrate the message of joy the angles brought to shepherds in the field. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
We light the Bethlehem candle to honor the faith of Mary and Joseph. They made the difficult journey to Bethlehem perhaps not understanding but walking in faith.