READING: Galatians 2:15-21
SERMON : "Through Faith in Christ"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
for the upcoming Sunday. Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
A READING FROM GALATIANS 2:15-21
(NIV) "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that
a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus
Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may
be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because
by observing the law no one will be justified.
"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that
we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin?
Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a
lawbreaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might
live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer
live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live
by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I
do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be
gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
L This is the word of the Lord.
P Thanks be to God.
HOMILY "Through Faith in Jesus Christ"
Loving God, breath your Spirit upon us that we may receive Your
Word afresh and anew. Take my lips and speak through them; take
our minds and think through them; take our hearts and set them
on fire. We ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Two thoughts for today - both related to the nature of grace, to the nature
of God's love and what it demands of us.
I would like to do that with two stories. The first story is an old
chestnut that some of you may have heard before.
Two well dressed Jewish fathers came to their rabbi. "Rabbi, I
do not understand my son," said the first father. "I spent
$25,000 on his bar mitzvah. I sent him to the finest Hebrew
school. Just last week he tells me he is a Christian."
"Funny you should ask," said the second father. "I am here for
the same reason. Rabbi what can you tell us?"
"Funny you should ask," said the Rabbi. "I, a Rabbi, and my own
son came to me and said he became a Christian."
"What did you do?" asked the two men.
"I talked to God," said the Rabbi.
"And, what did God say?"
God, he said to me, "Funny you should ask!"
When Paul wrote to the Galatians he wrote to a community facing the reverse
problem to that of this old joke he wrote to a community where people who
had discovered the good news of Jesus Christ were being taught by some
that to be a true follower of Christ they had to become Jewish first, that
they had to be circumcised and initiated at the synagogue and then observe
the Law of the Old Testament - those things pertaining to Feast Days and
Diet and Ritual Cleanliness and so on and so forth.
In short they were being taught that the grace and love of Jesus Christ was
not enough; that to be a follower of Christ, to be fully acceptable to
God, they had to do something special, that they had to earn their way,
that they had to follow rules and regulations to prove themselves worthy of
This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel that says, as it does in
today's scripture reading, that a person is not justified by observing the
law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.
None of us, my friends needs to earn our way. None of us has to follow the
traditions and rules of others to be loved and accepted by God.
That is the first lesson of our scripture reading today, and the second I
want to make is like it.
Again - a story to begin with. A woman, a mother, tells the story, about
her young son and herself. She says:
My little boy came into the kitchen one evening while I was
fixing supper and he handed me a piece of paper he'd been writing
on. After wiping my hands on my apron, I read it, and this is
what it said:
For mowing the grass, $5.
For making my own bed this week, $1.
For going to the store $.50.
For playing with baby brother while you went shopping, $.25
For taking out the trash, $1.
For getting a good report card, $5.
For raking the yard, $2.
Have any of you ever been there with your kids? Having them come to you
and charge you for doing chores and looking after themselves???
The woman continues her tale by saying:
I looked at my son, standing there expectantly, and a thousand
memories flashed through my mind. So, I picked up the paper he
had given me, and turning it over, this is what I wrote:
For the nine months I carried you, growing inside me.
For the nights I sat up with you, doctored you, prayed for you.
For the time and the tears, and the cost through the years.
For the nights filled with dread, and the worries ahead.
For advice and the knowledge, and the cost of your college.
For the toys, food and clothes, and for wiping your nose.
When you add it all up, the full cost of my love my Son.
That is what is God's love is all about. There is no charge. Just a lot
of hope - God hoping for us - God praying for us - God feeding us, God
watching over us.
The mother who related the story I just told concludes the story by saying
When my son finished reading, he had great big tears in his eyes.
He looked up at me and he said, "Mama, I sure do love you." Then
he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote on his bill:
PAID IN FULL.
My friends, God owes us nothing for what we do for him,
nor do we owe him - for he has written NO CHARGE upon our bill,
he has written it in the sign of the cross.
Never, my friends demand of others that they earn your love.
And never let them demand of you that you earn their love.
Rather - love as you are loved by God, unconditionally - as a gift -
without ties or conditions,
with only the hope that those whom you love
might in turn love others in the same way.
Let go and let God be operative in you - day by day. Amen
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2004
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.