Lectionary Commentaries for July 4, 2010
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Marilyn Salmon

A Challenging Journey

Jesus has “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” and he told fellow-travelers that the journey requires their single-minded purpose (9:51-62). Jesus sends seventy ahead of him and prepares them for what lies ahead. The laborers are few and the risks are great. Jesus sends them in pairs with no provisions for the journey. No conversing with those they meet on the road. They will depend on the hospitality of strangers. He instructs them to move on if a town does not welcome them, with a sign of judgment against that place.

Several years ago I asked seminary students to envision themselves as one of the seventy and imagine what would be most challenging about this journey. Many responses were predictable: not taking any money even for emergencies, no change of clothes, no food, depending on strangers for food and lodging, not being able to choose one’s traveling partner, judging people who did not accept the message. But one student who had not spoken in class previously said, “Eat what is set before you.” (verse 8) Silence, then a bit of nervous laughter followed. He repeated, emphatically, “Eat what is set before you,” conveying by his tone that he was serious.

When I invited him to elaborate, he told us that his father had been a pastor in a rural, very poor area in South Dakota. The family was often invited for dinner by parishioners, most of them farmers. He recalled that he and his siblings were admonished to eat whatever was served. I supposed that he referred to a child’s finicky tastes or disdain for green vegetables. But he went on to say that people on remote farms often relied on whatever they could kill or catch nearby for food, even for company. He added, “We just never knew what we would have to eat.” Then I understood. I recalled my father’s stories of growing up in such a place during the Depression. As a young boy, he often hunted squirrels, rabbits, and other wild creatures. I could not imagine eating such things, but they did.

Social Location
In our classroom discussion, our readings of this text were informed by social location. Most of us defined the challenges of this mission from the experience of privilege. Our imaginations were limited to concerns of comfort and compatibility. We were most threatened by the loss of control or ability to make choices. As I recall the conversation, several obstacles were related in some way to dependence on others for basic needs. No doubt at all that I would prefer a per diem allowance and the privilege of choosing my travel companions, where I slept, and what I ate.

One student spoke from a cross cultural experience. As a child he had learned something about social location, though he would not have named it this. In a formative time in his life he experienced first-hand the customs and habits of life without the choices many take for granted. He crossed from “eat what is known and preferred” to “eat whatever is on the table,” often unknown and unimaginable at home.  This experience informed his reading of this text. And for the rest of us, his insight raised awareness of the way the experience of privilege informed our interpretations.

Since that class discussion, I think about the challenges of the mission differently.  I observe that some of the imagined challenges centered on hospitality, especially in the role of recipient. Hospitality is a prominent theme through Luke and Acts and is at the center of this text. But I imagine that the customs of hospitality evident in Luke are not those commonly observed by most Christians who hear our sermons.

Hospitality According to Luke
A commentator once observed that, as Luke tells it, Jesus is either on his way to eat, eating, or just leaving the table. (See 5:29ff; 7:36ff; 10:36ff; 11:37ff; 14:1ff) This is an overstatement, of course, but it does capture the prominent place of table fellowship in Luke. According to this gospel narrative, sharing a meal defines hospitality.  As Luke tells it, however, the emphasis is on being a gracious recipient.

Jesus dines frequently, but he never gives a dinner party. He is always a guest. Even at the Passover meal at which Jesus presides, someone else prepares it (22:7-8). In today’s lection, Jesus instructs those sent forth to accept the hospitality of those who offer it, for as long as they offer it, “eating and drinking whatever they provide” (verse 7) 

This model of hospitality transgresses common customs of hospitality as I know and understand them. Where is the notion of reciprocity?  If I invite you to dinner, I will notice if I do not receive an invitation to dine at your home. And what about overstaying one’s welcome? We have unflattering names for people who “take advantage of” our generous hospitality. The name “free-loader” comes to mind. In our seminary class discussion, we disassociated ourselves from the behavior Jesus advocates here. 

But perhaps our generally accepted rules of hospitality inhibit a practice of hospitality that is more mutual. The student who was challenged as a child to “eat what is set before you” experienced what it meant to be a gracious recipient of hospitality. When I heard his story, I pondered an underlying assumption that those who have more extend hospitality to those who have less. It occurred to me that he also experienced a culture in which social class did not prevent mutual hospitality.  In my world, sharing a meal is most often a social or community occasion that generally follows boundaries of social class. And in the congregational life with which I am most familiar, hospitality means a warm welcome for a newcomer to worship services. Sharing a meal might come later, after a few visits and becoming better acquainted.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and he invites us to walk with him. His words here speak to every generation of Christian disciples and inspire a sense of urgency about bringing God’s realm near. As we begin, we are called to examine customs we create to protect our comfort and ease, beginning with the practice of hospitality.

First Reading

Commentary on Isaiah 66:10-14

Christine Roy Yoder

Everything about this final chapter of Isaiah heralds God’s sovereignty.

From the opening portrait of God as the cosmic king, who sits enthroned in heaven with feet propped on the earth (66:1; cf. 63:15), to the concluding announcement of a divinely-wrought “new heavens and new earth” in which all flesh will worship God (66:22-23), God commands center stage–larger than life, all powerful, and awe-inspiring. The prophet’s relentless insistence that God reigns supreme renders comparatively insignificant any other claim to ultimate importance, whether from the Temple (“what is the house that you would build for me?,” 66:1), certain believers (“they chose what did not please me,” 66:4), or political powers (“I am coming to gather all nations and tongues,” 66:18).

Because God made and rules over everything (66:2), nothing on earth should ever take itself too seriously, including the community of faith.1 Thus, the prophet condemns some in the postexilic community who consider themselves models of piety: they choose “their own ways” (66:3; cf. 66:17; 65:2-5), imbuing their worship with such self-importance that they contort the observances into abominable acts. They do not listen when God calls (66:3-5). Conversely, the prophet assures the “humble and contrite,” who “tremble at [God’s] word,” and are rejected for their faithfulness (66:2, 5), that God sees and is with them. Indeed, God intervenes suddenly and decisively in their favor (66:7-16).

In the verses immediately preceding the lectionary text, the prophet compares God’s intervention to a painless birth–one “before [Zion] was in labor…before her pain came on her” (verse 7). Repetition of verbs meaning “to labor” and “to give birth” in verses 7-9 holds the reader’s attention on the miraculous event, even as rhetorical questions underline how astonishing it is (“who has heard… who has seen such things?” in verse 8). God delivers the people in “one day…one moment” (verse 8)–instantly reversing all expectations. Yet again, God makes a way forward when there is no way, and then God wonders why anyone would expect otherwise (verse 9)! The remarkable moment sets up the lectionary reading, which unfolds in two units: a summons to rejoice (verses 10-11) and a promise of comfort and wellbeing from God (verses 12-14).

God’s sudden and unexpected deliverance turns lament into joy (verses 10-11). The verb “to rejoice” (sus) frames the lectionary text (verses 10, 14) and, as if to pull every last person up from the dust, the prophet unleashes a string of imperatives–using three different verbs–to summon the community to celebration (“rejoice…be glad…rejoice in her rejoicing..,” verse 10). Repetition of “all” contributes to the sense of comprehensiveness: not a single one who loves Jerusalem need mourn any longer. Moreover, the celebration enlivens the joyful, who now nurse until satisfied, slurp until refreshed from Jerusalem’s “comforting” (nhm, verse11; cf. verse13) breast; the prophet’s frequent use of the labial letter “m” in verse 11b evokes the sound of contentment.

Imagery of milk merges with water as the prophet reveals God’s promise for comfort and wellbeing (verses 12-14; cf. Isa 40:1; 49:13). Like a river, God will send shalom (“peace”)–a broad term that prophet pairs with the parallel phrase “the wealth of nations” (verse 12). As Isaiah testifies elsewhere, the restoration of Israel disrupts socioeconomic realities so that an abundance of the finest goods streams to Zion (e.g., 60:4-16; 61:5). And, as the world turns toward Jerusalem, God turns as well, speaking directly and personally of great comfort–“you will nurse, you will be carried, you will be dandled” (verse 12b). The parental and playful images culminate in a threefold assurance of “comfort” (nhm): as does a mother–as does Zion–so God will comfort you (verse 13; cf. verse 11). God’s comfort transforms the community and the world, for even as the faithful witness God’s power and renew their strength, “it is known,” presumably by everyone, that God stands with them (verse 14).

The lectionary text ends prematurely, preferring to bask in the joy and comfort of God’s deliverance than to plunge back into the messiness of communal conflict that frames the reading and provokes God’s action (verses 1-6, 14b-16). Only the last line of verse 14 hints at the utter divisiveness with its mention of “[God’s] servants” and “[God’s] enemies.” By wresting God’s decisive action from the very context that prompts it, however, we miss the prophet’s claim that God’s deliverance brings–within the community of faith–comfort and danger, affirmation and threat, joy and despair. We miss the urgent call to reflection: Are we among those who “choose their own ways” (verse 4)? Do we “tremble at [God’s] word” (verses 2, 5)? How we answer, after all, determines whether we hear the uproar in the city–God’s thunderous voice from the temple–as heralding good news (verse 6).

1See W. Brueggemann, Isaiah 40-66 (Westminster Bible Companion; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 252.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on 2 Kings 5:1-14

Samuel Giere

This delightfully pesky story of the healing of Naaman the Aramean by Elisha the prophet of Israel is a story of border-crossings, whereby the Lord works in mysterious ways — unwelcome by anyone, ancient or modern, who wants the Lord to observe humanity’s boundaries, and welcome by those finding themselves at the margins or on the outside.

Textual Horizons
A suggestion right off the bat — lengthen the pericope to include at least verses 15-19a, if not the whole of 2 Kings 5.1  While the healing of Naaman is a demonstration of the power of the Lord, the thrust of the story comes in the post-healing encounter of Naaman and Elisha (verses 15-19a) and the narrative reversal in which the insider, Elisha’s Israelite servant Gehazi, ends up on the outside (verses 19b-27).

On to the story…

From the beginning of Naaman’s story, we know a few things about him. He is a foreigner, particularly a powerful foreigner, commanding the army of Israel’s enemy, Aram. Naaman also has leprosy. It appears that Naaman’s leprosy did not carry the stigma of social and cultic alienation in Aram, such as is described in Leviticus 13-14. At the same time, it is clear from the story that this leprosy is something that Naaman (and perhaps his wife) wanted to be rid of.

An essential character in the story is the Israelite slave girl. Taken captive, she has come to serve the wife of Naaman. Though nameless in the story, her role is pivotal. Breaking out of the silence of slavery, it is her speaking that begins Naaman’s healing. Though a displaced insider, she is the one who directs Naaman to the healing power of the Lord, the God of Israel, by way of Israel’s prophet. She is the initiator of hope. It is upon her word that Naaman approaches the king of Aram with a request to follow this lead toward his own healing. And as quickly as she enters the story, she fades into the background.

From powerful to powerless, the focus shifts to the king of Aram and a bit of political tension. Seemingly bent on having his commander restored and unable to do so himself, the king of Aram sends a letter, not to the prophet, but to the king of Israel. In so doing, the king of Aram not surprisingly disregards to the word of the slave girl. The contents of the letter2 are accompanied by a small fortune, perhaps a catalyst for healing.

Initially, the letter has the inverse result. It drives Israel’s king into mourning, for he knows that God alone can give life and assumes that this is the king of Aram picking a fight.3  

The narrative then turns to Elisha’s intervention. Upon the arrival of Naaman and his entourage, Elisha does not see him but sends a messenger with the prescription — seven washes in the Jordan — simple instructions. What follows is a give and take. Naaman is upset at the simplicity and the locality. Are not the rivers of Aram as good as the Jordan? Calmed by his servant, he follows Elisha’s prescription and is restored.

While this is where the pericope ends, this is where the story begins. 

Things get delightfully strange when Naaman returns to Elisha. It is their first proper meeting, not veiled as their first by the interaction of emissaries. Naaman confesses, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel…” While one can argue with Naaman’s exclusive location of the God of Israel in Israel, Elisha does not. Rather, in his healing, Naaman has been met and healed by the Lord in a way that leads to knowing.

While Naaman tries to give Elisha some or all of the fortune he carries from the king of Aram, Elisha accepts nothing. “As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!” It is the Lord who healed Naaman, not Elisha.

Naaman then asks for two things: (1) two mule loads of earth from Israel so that he can worship the Lord when he gets home (recall that he thinks that there is no God but the God in Israel), and (2) that he be pardoned when he necessarily (because of his position in Aram) bows down with the King of Aram in the temple of Rimmon, the chief god of Aram. Naaman has earlier stated his sole devotion to the Lord, yet what is he to do in this situation? Elisha answers “Go in peace.” He does not prohibit or regulate or condemn. He bids him to go in peace.

The foreigner, healed from leprosy, has come to know the Lord is the only God. He has pledged his devotion to the Lord. And, in the face of a pressing dilemma, the prophet does not forbid and perhaps blesses Naaman in his position as commander of the army of the king of Aram with all that this entails.

With Naaman’s departure, presumably with two donkey loads of soil, the story is not quite over.

At this point, we are introduced to a servant of Elisha. While the slave girl, who at the beginning of the story is the initiator of hope, goes without a name, the servant of Elisha, who brings shame, is named. Gehazi is his name, and he thinks that Elisha has let this foreigner off too easy. Leaving his master, he ran to Naaman and fed him a cock and bull story. He misrepresents Elisha and manages to scam Naaman.

Summoned and questioned by Elisha, Gehazi lies. The prophet knows his lie. It is not the lie, however, that brings the curse. Rather, it is that Gehazi scammed the foreigner, Naaman. For this, Gehazi receives the leprosy of Naaman, and the story comes full circle4 and turns upside down. The outsider is blessed, the insider is cursed.

Preaching Horizons

While not the only place where the horizon of this text meets the horizon of today, this text does appear in the lectionary on July 4 — Independence Day in the United States. Perhaps this story fundamentally jars “common sensibilities” about borders and boundaries, about who is in and who is out. What does this story have to say about how the Lord disrespects the boundaries that we humans erect? Surely, the boundaries that we place around God’s love cannot and will not hold God back.

Is it any wonder that Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth filled his fellow citizens with rage? Is it any wonder that his telling of this story made them want to hurl him off a cliff?5

1While I intend no offense to the lectionary editors, the story is only just getting rolling by the end of the pericope.  If you’re going to the bother to preach this text, include the whole chapter.
22 Kings 5:6b
3“Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?  Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” 2 Kings 5:7
4John Gray, I & II Kings: A Commentary (second revised ed.; OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1964, 1970), 502.
5Luke 4:16-30


Commentary on Psalm 66:1-9

Craig A. Satterlee

A Response to the First Reading

On this Sunday, the church uses verses from Psalm 66 to respond to and echo Isaiah’s call to rejoice as we summon the whole earth to “be joyful” and “sing the glory of God’s name” (66:1, 2).  “Psalm 66 recalls God’s deliverance at the Exodus (verse 6), celebrated at the early harvest festival, for which the poet pledges appropriate thanksgiving sacrifices.”1 

The appointed verses appear to be a community hymn, the purpose of which is summarized in verse 8: “Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard.” The psalmist calls all the earth to make a joyful noise to God (66:1) and declares, “All the earth praises you, they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name” (66:4). In the First Reading, Isaiah announces that God will extend prosperity to Jerusalem so that all may know that God’s hand is with God’s servants and God’s indignation is against God’s enemies (66:12, 14). Echoing this good news, the psalmist recalls God’s “awesome deeds” and proclaims that God’s great power keeps God’s people among the living and causes enemies to cringe (66:3, 9).

Who are God’s Enemies? 
“Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you” (66:3). So who are God’s enemies? Does God, in fact, have enemies, and how do we preach about them? We tend to look for some “other,” for someone else to be God’s enemies. We seem to find that someone in verse 7: “who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations—let the rebellious not exalt themselves.”  Yet, to name “the nations” or “the rebellious” as God’s enemy is too simplistic. While “the nations” are mentioned this once, the reference to the Exodus in verse 6 reminds us of all the ways God’s people doubted, complained, and rebelled against God as they wandered their way through the wilderness behind a pillar of cloud and fire.

This might be an occasion to preach about death and everything that causes God’s people–us–to trip and fall as God’s enemies. The preacher might dare to name all the ways we die and the ways we individually and congregationally–and on this Independence Day, perhaps nationally–doubt, complain, and rebel against God as we follow God through the wilderness of the world.

While the Fourth of July might tempt us to name “others” as God’s enemies, a God-fearing people in a “Christian nation” witnesses to its faith by concretely naming and specifically confessing the ways our country functions as God’s enemy. The preacher can then declare the good news that nevertheless, God “has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.”(66:9). Taking a cue from the Epistle reading, Paul might call these things that we name and confess “transgressions” and invite the preacher to “restore . . . in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).

See God’s Awesome Deeds
Perhaps more appealing, the preacher might join the seventy sent by Jesus and use the psalm to proclaim God’s awesome deeds of great power, so that the assembly might know, in Luke’s words, that “the dominion of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). The psalmist declares, “Come now and see the works of God, how awesome are God’s deeds toward all people” (verse 5). The psalmist recalls God’s “awesome deeds” (verse 3) of transforming the sea into dry land and permitting God’s people to cross the river into the Promised Land without getting their feet wet. These Exodus events, which bookend Israel’s wilderness sojourn, provide a context or interpretive key for the psalmist’s invitation for the people to thank God for a more recent rescue (66:8-9). The psalmist recalls the people at the sea rejoicing “there” (66:6-7) and calls the people to likewise bless God for keeping them alive and not allowing them to misstep.

Rather than explicitly and objectively naming God’s awesome deeds in the individual or corporate lives of the congregation or nation, the appointed psalm gives us a perspective from which we can discover and name God’s awesome deeds, or the ways the dominion of God has come near to us, for ourselves. After all, God’s awesome deeds are not objective or obvious. Israel passing safely through the sea brought death upon Egypt and crossing the river meant warfare and occupation for the people living in Israel’s Promised Land. When the church sings this psalm, it claims the Exodus as its own story and points to the fact that, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, God likewise rules over the nations and that, when it comes near to us, the dominion of God will bring destruction to the powers of this world. In humility we therefore name the ways God has kept us among the living and not let our feet slip (66:9).

Preaching Psalm 66:1-9
Whether the preacher chooses to name God’s enemies or point to God’s awesome deeds, the appointed psalm does not permit a self-congratulatory hooray for us, our church, or, especially on this day, our nation. Indeed, we are blessed. Yet, our blessings often mean suffering for others. More striking still, despite our blessings, we often end up as God’s enemies. As the psalmist says, the praise on this day belongs to God who keeps us among the living in spite of ourselves and who does awesome deeds toward all people. The sermon should leave the assembly blessing God, singing the glory of God’s name, and letting the sound of praise be heard.

1  Konrad Schaefer, David W. Cotter, Jerome T. Walsh, Chris Franke, Psalms (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2001), 160.

Second Reading

Commentary on Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16

Elisabeth Johnson

Freedom in Community (6:1-10)

In the first part of chapter six, Paul continues describing what life in community looks like when we live in the freedom Christ gives and use that freedom to serve one another.

Paul offers the example of dealing with a member of the community detected in a transgression. “You who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (6:1). Gentleness, after all, is one of the fruits of the Spirit. The goal of dealing with the transgressor is not punishment, but restoration and healing. The verb katartizo is often used as a medical term, to refer to setting a bone or joint right so that proper healing can occur.

While seeking to restore the transgressor, community members are to take care that they themselves are not tempted (6:1). Given what follows, Paul likely means being tempted to a false evaluation of self in comparison to the fallen brother or sister (6:3).

“Bear one another’s burdens,” Paul says, “and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2). Paul has a radical understanding of the responsibility believers have for one another. They are to share all burdens, even the burdens of guilt and shame when one of them goes astray. This is another way of fulfilling the “law of Christ,” the command to love neighbor as self (5:14).

Loving the neighbor this way means resisting self-deception (6:3), recognizing that I am every bit as vulnerable to temptation as my neighbor, every bit as dependent upon the grace of God. It means that rather than comparing myself to my neighbor, I engage in self-examination: “All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads” (6:4-5).

Here Paul seems to contradict himself. Though we are to bear one another’s burdens, we each carry our own load. Though we bear responsibility for one another, judgment belongs to God alone. We need to examine our lives, not in comparison to our neighbor, but only to see whether we are walking according to the Spirit. In the final judgment, we each will answer for our own lives.

“Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow,” Paul says (6:7). Our way of life will have its natural consequences. If we “sow to the flesh,” led by self-seeking desires, we will reap the only thing the flesh can produce—corruption. If we “sow to the Spirit,” led by the Spirit and investing in what is eternal, we will reap eternal life from the Spirit (6:8).

Here and several other places in his letters (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6-11, 16; 14:10), Paul’s warnings about being judged according to our work may seem to contradict his message that we are saved solely by God’s grace. Yet Paul is not saying that we can save ourselves by our works. “Faith working through love” is God’s work in us from beginning to end (Philippians 1:6; 2:13). Paul maintains that believers can face the judgment with confidence in God’s mercy, “for God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9; cf. Rom 8:1, 33-34).

The time remaining before the final judgment is not a time for growing lax or “weary in doing what is right.” It is rather an opportune time (kairos) for working for the good of all, so that the eschatological harvest will be even greater (Gal 6:9-10).

Paul’s Postscript (6:11-18)
Galatians 6:11-18 is not the only postscript Paul writes in his own handwriting (e.g., 1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17), but it is the longest. Instead of including the usual greetings, Paul returns again to the main themes of his letter.

First, he takes a few parting shots at his opponents in Galatia who are trying to convince the Galatians to be circumcised. He accuses them of having self-serving motives, saying that they “want to make a good showing in the flesh” (6:12) and to “boast about your flesh” (6:13), i.e., to boast about their success in proselytizing. They also want to avoid being “persecuted for the cross of Christ” (6:12), presumably by fellow Jews. Paul adds that those advocating circumcision for the Galatians do not even obey the law themselves (6:13), a remark that recalls his conflict with Cephas described in 2:11-14.

In contrast to his opponents who boast in the flesh, Paul declares, “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (6:14; cf. 2:10-20; 5:24).

In speaking of the world (kosmos) here, Paul does not mean the created universe, but rather the “present evil age” (1:4). It is the world in which “weak and beggarly elemental spirits” (4:9) still enslave, the world in which barriers between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female still divide (3:28). Paul must still contend with this world, but lives in a “crucified” relationship to it. He recognizes that it is passing away, for in the death and resurrection of Christ, a new creation has shattered the old order.

Paul reiterates his firm conviction that “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!” (6:15) He then prays for peace and mercy upon all who follow this rule (6:16).

Preaching Possibilities
Too often, it seems, interpersonal dynamics in the church simply mirror those of the world. There is no shortage of finger-pointing for whatever is perceived to be wrong, and no shortage of judgment for those perceived to have messed up. Too often those experiencing crisis in their lives avoid the church for fear of judgment or being smothered by condescending care-givers. The person or family in crisis grows more isolated, and the community of faith is not the place of healing and restoration it is intended to be.

In stark contrast is Paul’s understanding of the responsibility we bear for one another. This responsibility extends to restoring one who has transgressed, but doing so in a spirit of gentleness, without judgment, without an air of condescension. It means “bearing one another’s burdens,” recognizing our own vulnerability and sharing in the guilt and pain of the transgression as well as the responsibility for healing and restoration.

Bearing one another’s burdens in this way is a tall order, a fine line to walk. The temptations of excessive meddling, self-deception, and judging the neighbor are ever present. Yet we are called to be an alternative community of God’s grace, mercy, healing, and restoration in an unforgiving world. This is possible only by the power of the Spirit, only by God remaking us a new creation in Christ.