John 16:16–22, Galatians 4:8–20
How often when we know the story so well do we look down on those who don’t get it? The disciples certainly didn’t get it. Jesus often spoke in parables, and because we think we know the answer, we find it easy to impose our understanding onto Jesus’ words.
If we think of the disciples’ time with Jesus as an extended “mountain-top” experience that seemed to be never-ending, we can understand their confusion. What could possibly go wrong? We know the ending, but they didn’t.
Part of the mystery and rhythm of the “church” year is the annual repetition of the joy, pain, heartache, and (again) joy that is Jesus’ life. It is also not just Jesus’ life. It is ours as well.
Not all that long ago, we celebrated the birth of Jesus, less than (but almost) 2 weeks ago was his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Just 8 days ago Jesus died on the cross. Just 6 days ago, Jesus rose again. This ebb and flow like life. Was Jesus belittling his own painful sacrifice on the cross, linking it to the labor pains (not that such are small or minor in anyway), or (more likely) equating the short term pain with the joy that comes with new life. With the joy of such new life overriding the anxiety of the pain just experienced. We know what the new life is of a mother giving birth. What about Jesus?
When Paul speaks to the Galatians, he expresses the heart of Jesus insofar as the new life that Jesus spoke of. It is you. It is me. It is the extended framily called the church. This new life is a community called to worship God with one another in love and truth.
1) What do you think when you think of the “church year”? Is it a new concept to you? How does it shape your life, both in and outside of church?
2) Do you find it difficult to separate your knowledge from the story? You know what’s going to happen. Are you able to “live” with the disciples as they walk with Jesus?
3) Paul states that his “birthing pains” continue as he awaits Christ’s formation in the Galatians. Aren’t the Galatians Christians? What do you think Paul means?