Delivered at Ames UCC
on May 28, 2017
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie
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WHO DID IT?
Who has bewitched you? You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you??
I feel like screaming this to the young man who died to kill others in Manchester last week; to the young man who murdered Bible students in Charleston; to the young man who gunned downed dancers at a nightclub; to the young man who did the same at a youth camp in Norway; to the older man who killed at a women’s health clinic; to the University of Maryland college student who lynched a Bowie State University student; to the young man who has made bomb threats against synagogues in three countries; to the man and woman who abandoned their child in order to destroy social service workers in San Bernardino.
Christians, Muslims, and Jews, who so bewitched you that you thought the violent deaths of strangers was your right and the most faithful response to God and care of country?
You foolish people, who has bewitched you??
Then I look at Paul’s letter today and have part of the answer.
As a progressive Christian church, one of our all-time favorite lines comes from this letter from Paul, the Roman Jew turned apostle to Jesus Christ, to the emerging Christian community of Jews and Gentiles in Galatia, which is contemporary Turkey.
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
This is how my own leadership has been justified to fellow Christians who prefer women to be quiet and gay people to go through “conversion therapy.”
But as with all scripture, this magnificent piece of sacred truth exists within a larger context. Paul’s letter to the Galatians is not, really, a universal testimony advocating total human liberation and equality. It is a letter for a specific people addressing a specific problem at a specific time a long time ago.