Pentecost 4C – June 16, 2013 (Father’s Day in 2013), June 13, 2010
1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a
2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:10, 13-15 – The prophet Nathan condemns David, with a story of a rich man and a poor man with one little lamb. David: “This man deserves to die.” Nathan: “You are the man!”
Psalm 5:1-8 – Listen to what I say, O Lord. Hear my prayer.
Psalm 32– Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Galatians 2:15-21 – For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. If justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
Luke 7:36 – 8:3– Sinful woman with alabaster jar forgiven. Women follow Jesus: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
Many thanks to Pastor Don Carlson for his service to the church and the synod, and also for his kicking off of the Galatians series. As he noted, we are in Galatians for about six weeks, providing an excellent opportunity for a series on the Freedom of the Gospel:
- June 2, Galatians 1:1-12
- June 9, Galatians 1:11-24
- June 16, Galatians 2:15-21 (June 16 is also Father’s Day)
- June 23, Galatians 3:23-29 (June 19 is Juneteenth)
- June 30, Galatians 5:1, 13-25 (July 4 is Independence Day)
- July 7, Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16
Freedom is a central theme for Galatians. It is also a powerfully iconic term for Americans in the U.S. Nearly unanimously, people have a positive association with the word “freedom.” Additionally, two freedom-focused celebrations fall during this six weeks: Juneteenth and the Fourth of July. For those not from Texas, Juneteenth is June 19, 1865, the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation (which was issued two and a half years earlier on September 22, 1862).
Some of my seminary professors told us to ignore cultural holidays, like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or the Fourth. I followed this advice in my early ministry but abandoned it midway. We preach to a lot of different people, of different ages, in differing situations. It’s hard to address all the audiences sitting out there on any given Sunday. The preacher looks for a way to connect with everyone. How can I grab the attention of at least the majority of people out there? Where can I start, to meet them where they are at, and make a connection? Then along comes a cultural holiday ( or a news event, or a disaster), and we are handed, as if on a silver platter, an open door, something that is already on everyone’s mind. Why would any preacher in his or her right mind pass up this opportunity?
So if the lottery is at a record high, and everybody’s talking about it, I’m not going to ignore this. I will use it as a springboard into their consciousness. If it’s Mother’s Day, and mom’s have dragged husbands and children to church, I’m going to roll with it. If it’s Father’s Day and people are thinking about their dads (dead or alive), I’m in. If it’s the Fourth of July, and people are filled with warm feelings about their country, then I’m going to take the best of that impulse and go with it. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…” This is precisely Paul’s point in Galatians 3:28-29. Why on earth would I miss this opportunity?
Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians sometime between 48 and 51 A.D, roughly 20 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Perhaps Paul wrote it while he was in Corinth the winter of 51-52. He wrote it to churches in Galatia, what is now modern day Turkey.
Galatia was originally a province in the northern highlands of Turkey. In 270 B.C. Gauls (Celts) invaded the region and settled there. Roman writers referred to the inhabitants as “Galli.” We don’t know what the Galli called themselves, since they were an illiterate people. Their capital was Ancyra (today, Ankara, the capital of Turkey).
Rome conquered Galatia in the Galatian War. Henceforth Galatia was under Roman control, via regional rulers. In 25 A.D. Galatia was officially incorporated as a Roman Province by Octavian Augustus. So, in a sense, there were two Galatias. Galatia was a large Roman Province, but there was still the smaller northern territory in the highlands that was referred to as Galatia.
At the risk of suggesting an overly rosy harmonization of Paul’s account in Galatians and Luke’s account in Acts, I will tentatively say that Paul was in Galatia during his second missionary journey, according to Luke, though it appears he plods through parts of the Roman province in all of his first three journeys, if we assume he went through southern Galatia (Iconium, Lystra and Derbe). Paul picked up Timothy in Lystra. Paul doesn’t actually give us any of this information. This is all from Luke. Paul simply tells us he is there due to some kind of illness, perhaps a problem with his eyes (Galatians 4:13-15).
I’ve had a timeline going for a number of years. It’s based on Acts, but modified based on things I come across in the epistles from time to time. I wouldn’t consider it authoritative, but a proposal for conversation and consideration.
33 Jesus’ crucifixion
34? Paul’s conversion
Arabia (Gal. 1:17 – NOT Jerusalem)
Damascus (Gal. 1:17 – NOT Jerusalem; A. N. Wilson: “We cannot date Paul’s sojourn into Damascus.”
37? Jerusalem (Gal. 1:18 – after three years, for 15 days; only saw Cephas/Peter and James, the Lord’s brother; Acts 9:26-30)
Tarsus (where Barnabas finds him, Acts 11:25)
Antioch (where Barnabas takes him, Acts 11:26)
37-46 Still nine years unaccounted for!
46-48 1st Missionary Journey with Barnabas (Acts 13-14)
48 Jerusalem conference with Barnabas and Titus (Gal. 2:1, Acts 15)
49-52 2nd Missionary Journey with Silas (Acts 15:36-18:21) Luke goes too. Timothy gets picked up in Lystra.
51-52 Paul in Corinth
53-57 3rd Missionary Journey (Acts 18:22-21:16)
59-62 4th Missionary Journey (to Rome)
Men don’t just love church. Books have been written on this. Consider Dave Murrow’s Why Men Hate to Go to Church. Some think this is a new phenomenon. I don’t. Men are doers. They don’t like to sit and navel gaze. It’s good for us, but I’ll admit I resist praying every day and going to see my spiritual director every month. I’m so glad I did, every time, but beforehand, I can’t help but resist the feeling I’m wasting my time.
Men have been bored by church going back to Eutychus, who nodded off during Paul’s sermon in Troas, falling to his apparent death from a window (Acts 20:9-12).
Because of this, I think it takes an extra effort to think about how we shape worship to be appealing to men. Dave Murrow says church is set up so that men lose. We sing and read, things that women do better than men. We do touchy feely things like holding hands. We decorate our churches with flowers and the leaders wear dresses.
Look at the man places. Sports bars, for example. Men like sports. Competition. We shun that in church. Men like hunting and fishing. We decorate our spaces with cars and motorcycles. I’m not suggesting turning your church into a sports bar, but we could think more about this stuff. I’m not much into sports. My dad said I should sprinkle my sermons with more sports analogies. After all, Paul used boxing and running analogies. So I started reading the Sports page, got Sports Illustrated, watched ESPN and tried to keep up. It made a noticeable difference.
One year we gave out awards for the oldest father and youngest father. One year for the dad with the most kids. This one actually took an odd turn as the winner was a man who had been married three times and had a bazillion step kids. One year we had a front row of easy chairs, because, you know, men like lounge chairs.
So what do you do with all of this on Father’s Day? Ironically, the gospel reading is about these women who follow Jesus and the disciples around, and who “provided for them out of their resources.” Jesus’ ministry is supported by wealthy patronesses. The woman with the alabaster jar provides opportunities to show Jesus treating a woman with respect. To be a man or father does not mean lording ones masculinity over women. Jesus explains to the Pharisee that this woman has been forgiven, which is why she loves so much. Leadership is forgiveness which leads to love. There’s plenty to work with here.
If you’re in a series on Galatians, this might be a good time to talk about Paul’s apostleship. Paul identifies himself as an apostle in four of the seven undisputed letters, and in five of the six disputed letters. Paul considers apostleship a gift (1 Cor. 12:28). Apostleship is central to Paul’s self understanding.
For Paul, however, apostleship, leadership, is not about prestige. It is not about power. It is about serving, sacrifice, suffering. “We are regarded as fools,” Paul says. Persecuted, beaten and despised, leadership is about taking a few blows for what is right.
The same can be said about fatherhood. Fatherhood is not about being the big bad boss. It’s not about getting your way. It’s about being the example of service and sacrifice. It’s about compassion and love. Jesus himself showed us the way when he washed his disciples’ feet, when he gave his life on the cross. A real man is someone who gives his life for the family.
Whatever direction you take, I hope you have fun with Father’s Day.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Michael Rinehart