July 3, 2022 – Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – Galatians 6:1-16

As I read this week’s lessons, one verse popped out at me. I usually don’t preach on just one verse. I usually look for big ideas or overarching themes. And yet this week, I confess, it was one phrase that caught my attention; one part of one verse, actually, from all of the appointed lessons through which the Spirit spoke to me. And that phrase was this one: Galatians 6:9 – Let us not grow weary in doing what is right.

Let us not grow weary in doing what is right. Let us not grow weary. I don’t have to think long or hard to know why this verse popped out at me: I am weary. And I’m guessing that, you might feel some of that weariness, too: worries about family and money, anxiety about change and the future, weariness from illness and grief.

Let us not grow weary of doing what is right, says St. Paul. But he’s not saying it to one individual. He’s saying it to the whole church in Galatia because they had become divided by conflict over whether or not they should be required to keep Old Testament Jewish traditions. The weariness he is addressing is community weariness because it’s hard work to keep a community together. And on this weekend when we, as a community of Americans, celebrate our nation’s birthday, there are many who are weary. While as individuals, we are worried about family and money, as a national community, we are worried about the bonds that are only tenuously holding us together and an economy which is making it increasingly hard for the most vulnerable among us to survive. While individually, we are anxious about change and the future, communally, we are anxious about the way progress has been erased and about what further rights might be stripped from our people. As citizens of a nation built on hopeful optimism, many of us are fighting despair over the sickness of violence and self-interest that has gripped our country and grieving a nation that no longer seems to value the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of all of its citizens. Those who are not as privileged as I by my race and class would say that this nation has never done a very good job at valuing all of its citizens.

But into that disillusionment and despair, St. Paul speaks words of encouragement: Let us not grow weary in doing what is right. While it is inevitable that we will grow weary, what defines us as a people of faith and hope is what happens after we grow tired and disillusioned. Will we throw up our hands and admit defeat? Will we disengage from public discourse, stop trying to stay up with current events, not bother to exercise our right to vote, and give up on any attempts to reconcile with those whose political opinions differ from ours? Will we let ourselves be driven further and further into an ethic that says that my comfort is more important than your well-being? Or will we keep doing what is right? Will we heed Paul’s words, and no matter how disappointed and disillusioned we are, not grow weary in doing what is right . . . which is to work for the good of all?

On Facebook this week, I read the following post by a colleague in Texas which I found incredibly helpful:

“Neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor any of the Hebrew prophets lived under a democracy.

“This comforts me. The teachings they gave us become more relevant, not less, when the world feels like it’s falling apart. They gave us ways to live and resist. They knew what to do.

“So what do we do? We form real communities of love and care, inviting everyone in but having high standards for behavior. We read Scripture, sing hymns, and share meals. We care for the poor and the sick, inside of and outside of our community. We tell the truth about our lives.

“We trust that Divine reality pushes towards a better world, and we live in that world enough to hope and work for justice in this one.

“We love each other, and God. We can do this.”

We can do this. We can form authentic communities of mutual love and respect, and care for the poor and sick, and tell the truth. We can work for the good of all, as St. Paul admonished us. It’s called being the church. And in this body called the church, we can “not grow weary” because we have one another for support and the help of the Spirit to guide us.

Let us as the members of the Second Continental Congress did on July 4, 1776, “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, . . . [let us] mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” For that is what it means to work together for the good of all – which we do as good citizens, which we do as disciples and in the name of Jesus.

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The Rev. Lura Groen, pastor, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Houston, TX.

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