Month: February 2017

Lesson 13: February 26, 2017

Christ Creates Holy Living: Galatians 5:18 – 6:10


Teaching Strategy: Examine the qualities of being Paul names as “fruits of the Spirit.” Identify evidence of each of these spiritual fruits as you experience them at work in the Body of Christ. Further consider the impact Christians might have in the world if we more fully exemplified the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

Do a spiritual audit of your worshipping community, your school, or your place of employment.  When have you seen love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Generosity? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self-control? Share these stories with one another and then give thanks for the Spirit at work in your lives. 


Winter 2016-17 Theme: Creation

Unifying Principle: Many people reduce their religious obligations to fulfilling a set of legalistic requirements. What are the characteristics of an authentic Christian lifestyle? Paul sharply contrasts a Spirit-filled life with life in the flesh.

Lesson 12: February 19, 2017

Freedom in Christ: Galatians 5:1-17


Teaching Strategy: Write the letters

F-R-E-E-D-O-M 

so that they appear vertically on the left edge of newsprint or a whiteboard. Working in small groups create an acronym using each letter to name attributes of “freedom” as expressed in Galatians 5. Compare and contrast Paul’s teaching on Christian freedom with how “freedom” is used in today’s news or popular culture.

Here is one example of what your “freedom” acronym might look like:

F = faith working through love

R = responsive to the Spirit

E = eager for righteousness

E = enslaved to one another

D = dedicated to love

O = opposed to hate

M = mastery over fleshly desires

After your group creates their own list of the attributes of Christian freedom, consider popular definitions of “freedom” by today’s standards. Do an Internet search for “freedom” or search on social media sites such as YouTube or Twitter. Look up #freedom.  How are these popular visions of freedom aligned (or not) with the freedom we claim through Christ?


Winter 2016-17 Theme: Creation

Unifying Principle: Rigorous self-discipline is appealing to some because it seems to promise mastery over temptation. What is the key to living a morally acceptable life? Paul urges the Galatians to stand firm in Christian freedom and to live by the Spirit, which leads to greater holiness, not greater self-indulgence.

Lesson 11: February 12

New Birth Brings Freedom: Galatians 4:8 – 20


Teaching Strategy: Name and explore religious expectations and practices that may diminish Christian freedom or hurt people in the community of God’s loving family.

Paul writes to the Galatians because they changed course in their understanding of Christian faith.  Through Paul’s teaching the Galatian Gentiles came to faith in Christ and lived according to the Gospel they learned from Paul.  In Paul’s absence, they were influenced by religious leaders who insisted they keep the Law in order to maintain right relationship with God.  The leaders felt threatened because the new converts represented a growing edge of Christian faith that was beyond their ability to regulate.  In thinking about how Paul’s letter finds application in our own time, let’s consider the extent to which we try to regulate who is “in” and who is “out” based on criteria external to the Gospel.  And who benefits from these regulations? How do we make space in our lives, in our communities, and in our world for the grace of God, the love of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit?

Prayer: Open us, O God, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and recognize the “other” as our neighbor.  We pray for those in Kabul who are recovering from the fall out of the bombing at the Afghan Supreme Court in Kabul. We pray for our Syrian brothers and sisters who are caught day after day in the tragedies of violence and war.  We pray for Israel and Palestine.  Open us, O God, to be ambassadors of peace at home and abroad. We pray for the Standing Rock Tribe in North Dakota. We pray for refugees and immigrants whose plans for resettlement have been disrupted by political uncertainties.  Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

 

 


Winter 2016-17 Theme: Creation

Unifying Principle: People are tempted to sacrifice freedom in order to gain a sense of security. What are the dangers of this trade-off? Paul rebuked the Galatians for trading the freedom Christ gives for slavery to religious legalism.

Lesson 10: February 5, 2017

Re-Created to Live in Harmony: Galatians 3:26 – 4:7


Teaching Strategy: Invite participants to identify prejudices that they confront in their own peer groups, work settings, or worshipping communities. Afterwards, brainstorm strategies for overcoming our fears and intolerance of people who are different from us. 

Perhaps the best thing we can offer to our congregations in this new year is time and space for silent prayer.  Paul’s letter to the Galatians encourages us to live in harmony with those who hold viewpoints different from our own.  What relevance do we hear in Paul’s letter for the world today?  How can we pray for one another in these days where tensions across racial and religious differences are heightened? One site that consistently offers sound spiritual direction in shaping our prayers is titled simply: The World in Prayer.  


Winter 2016-17 Theme: Creation

Unifying Principle: Differences of race, class, and gender make it hard for people to get along. How can we live in harmony? Paul tells the Galatians that through Christ we have received the Spirit, making us heirs of God and bringing us into a community of oneness where human differences are no longer divisive.