Read Galatians 4:8-20.
I have an uneasy relationship with the Apostle Paul. If we were in an empty lunch room together, I’d try and find a seat as far away from him as possible. It’s not that I disagree with everything he writes, or the totality of his theology. I just don’t think he’d be a fun person to spend time with.
At first glance, this selection from Galatians seems to reaffirm my keep-me-as-far-away-from-Paul-as-possible stance. Quite unlike his usual style, in this passage Paul seems to be erratic, jumping from topic-to-topic with the agility of a terrified cat.
However, we are still able to catch a glimpse of Paul’s humanity. Here he makes a personal appeal to the friendship he once experienced with the Galatians. In short, Paul asks the Galatians a simple question: after all we’ve been through, how can you turn back? How can you possibly turn back to the time when you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods?
While Advent is a time of excitement as we prepare ourselves for the birth of Christ, it can also be a time of personal reflection. This piece from Paul’s letter to the Galatians invites us to reflect on the ways that God has been active in our lives especially through people who have had a profound impact on our journeys of faith. We are invited to remember those times and those people when we feel like turning back from God.
Holy God, we give you thanks for those saints who have journeyed with us along the way. May our memories of time spent with them give us strength to continue our own journey. Amen.
Rev. Andy Spaulding
Associate Pastor for Campus Ministry – Bama UKirk, First Presbyterian Church (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Alum, UCM University of Arkansas