READ: Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia is an important one in the Bible. As he draws his letter to a close he writes words of encouragement to his friends. He reminds them of an old commandment which is in the Jewish scriptures in Leviticus (19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus had thought it such an important rule that when he was asked “Of all the commandments, of all the ten best ways to live, which is the most important?” Jesus responded, “Love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” And then he added, “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these. (Mark 12:28-34)
Paul agrees with Jesus. And he builds on that commandment to love others as we love ourselves by describing what living according to the ways of God’s Spirit looks like. He imagines that a life freely lived in God’s Spirit is one filled with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” He calls these “fruits of the Spirit,” outward expressions of how the Spirit leads us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
(Galatians 5:1, 13-25)
WONDER: I wonder how the people in the church of Galatia feel when they read Paul’s words to love their neighbors as themselves?
I wonder how it feels when people love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength?
I wonder if it’s hard to love some people?
I wonder what your favorite gift of the Spirit is: kindness? joy? love? patience?
I wonder how the Spirit helps us?
SAY: In this part of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia, we see how the teachings of Jesus were passed on to others. Paul shares the most important commandment from God for us--loving our neighbors as ourselves.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for people who help us learn more about you and how you want us to live. Thank you for the Spirit who gives us the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Amen.
READ: The Apostle Paul traveled to many different places as he shared the stories of Jesus and of God’s love for the whole world. He would spend time in a town, making friends and teaching about the kingdom of God. When he left a town, there would be a group of people who continued to meet together, worshiping and learning about Jesus. Traveling took time in Paul’s day. There were no airplanes to make travel fast, and no phones or email. To keep up with the friends he had made and the new churches who were meeting in each town, sometimes Paul would write a letter to them. He would answer questions they may have had, or try to help them with a problem, or share a concern with them. When a church received one of Paul’s letters, they would read the letter aloud in their worship, just like a sermon.
In our Bibles we have a letter written by Paul to a church he had started in a town called Galatia. After he left, they had questions. Some people were claiming that in order to be a part of the church there were many steps that a person had to follow, and those that didn’t do everything weren’t fully a part of the church. Paul explained that this was not what he had taught them. When a person was baptized, that meant they were now all part of the same family, God’s family, the church. It didn’t matter where they were from, what language they spoke, what job they may have had, whether they were female or male--they belonged to Christ now. And that was all that mattered. (Galatians 3:23-29)
WONDER: I wonder what it was like to receive a letter from Paul?
I wonder what it is like to be baptized in water?
I wonder how it felt to be told you weren’t fully part of God’s family, the church?
I wonder how Paul felt when he heard some people were being left out of the church in Galatia?
I wonder what it feels like to be a part of the family of families, God’s family?
SAY: Paul loved the church in Galatia, and he wanted them to be a place that welcomed everyone. His letter to the church is an important part of our Scripture and helps us know more about God’s love for all people.
PRAY: Let’s pray. Thank you, God, for giving us a church to belong to, with people who love and care for us. Help us to share your love with one another. Amen.
Weekly Faith Conversations
Use these guides as conversation starters with your family. A short retelling of the scripture passage is offered or you may want to look the story up in your own bible or in a children's bible. The wondering questions are written to open up faith exploration with children and adults.