Sermon Reflections for: Acts 2: 1-4 and Galatians 4: 1-7
Pentecost is always one of my favorite Sundays, and this year’s NL is rich in fodder for good sermon writing. There are lots of directions to go with these dense texts. Here are just a few options:
Option 1: In context of “the Law”
To put the Galatians scripture into context – Paul was discussing with the church of Galatia the idea that followers of Jesus needed to come into their faith through the Jewish tradition and the laws of Moses. This was a fiery debate during the development of the early church (Paul arguing one side, Peter the other). And so within today’s scripture, Paul frames the Holy Spirit as the re-framer of the law. It could be interesting to extrapolate that out to Pentecost 2021 and craft a sermon looking at what “laws” your church holds sacred, and how the Holy Spirit might be re-framing these in 2021. So, where is your congregation rigidly following the “law” … Is it worship traditions? Certain programming goals? And what would it look like if the Holy Spirit moved through that in a new way? Certainly 2021 has us all re-imagining church once again, so how can you explore that through Paul’s word to the Galatians?
Option 2: A Child’s Advocate
In John 14, Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as the “Advocate” and that is one of my favorite descriptions for the work of the Spirit. In Galatians, Paul is using the metaphor of being a child and being adopted to describe the life of faith. I love the idea of pairing these two metaphors to see the Holy Spirit as the “child’s advocate.” In family court systems (here in the US at least), there is often a child advocate whose sole purpose is to hear all sides and decide what is best for the child. Imagine this image as the work of the Holy Spirit…. The “soul” purpose is to be in our hearts discerning what is best for us. What a blessing to know that we are children cared for by the Spirit in this way. That is certainly a Pentecost message.
Option 3: Adopted Heirs
In the early church, there was lots of discussion about whether Jesus came as the Messiah for the Israelites, God’s chosen, or whether his saving grace was for all – Jew and Gentile alike. It is also in Galatians where we get the beloved “in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek…” text. In this scripture, Paul uses language of adoption to hit home the idea that the Holy Spirit that we receive on Pentecost is for all. As Paul says here, “in the fullness of time” we all grow beyond the rudimentary principles of the earthly world and take on the Spirit’s redeeming. We are heirs, and adopted ones at that – because we do not receive grace from any sort of birthright, but from a love freely chosen, for all. This image of adopted heirs seems so comforting – especially for those for whom earthly family is broken or lost. Who in your congregation might need this sort of message of hope?
Whichever direction you choose to go in your sermon writing this week, one thing is certain. That the Holy Spirit will move in you and through you and send the very message that you congregation needs to hear. May you be filled.
Rev. Cathy M. Kolwey is a writer, artist, and UCC pastor who works at the intersection of spirituality and the arts. She is the Associate of Spiritual Formation at Colonial Church in Edina, MN. Cathy blogs at http://www.cmkolwey.com
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