1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me,
To the churches in Galatia:
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This month we will be reading the entire letter to the Galatians from the Bible. Written by Christ’s apostle Paul, addressed to the Celts who live in what is called Turkey today. To Christians with a Pagan background, confused by brothers from a Jewish background who were clung to the old covenant. The Galatians risked to lose their own faith, thereby making their conversion in vain.
In several respects, they are comparable to Muslims. Many Muslims have remote Christian ancestors who came under the spell of the preachings of Muhammad. Muhammad did not understand the difference between the old and the new covenant either. Hence Arabic Judaism stifled Christ’s church. Muslims do not believe in Jesus anymore who, by self-sacrifice, fulfilled the law (Matth. 5:17).
To our Islamic neighbours a special month has started today. Their moon month Ramadan coincides with our sun month August this year, 2011. The saum - which is what their fasting is called – is one of the five pillars on which the Islam is based. It means no food, drink, sex or cigaret between sunrise and sunset for the length of one summer month. During the coming weeks, you will be reading bible studies with the Islam as a backdrop. The letter to the Galatians offers handles for dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
Muslims like to greet one another with “peace” – salaam: linguistically, the word is related to Muslim – and “grace of Allah”. Christians may welcome Muslims with the greeting and blessing of God the Father, who lives in peace with people that surrender to his mercy in his son Jesus Christ.
I joyed when to the house of God,
Go up, they said to me.
Jerusalem, within thy gates
our feet shall standing.
Jerus’lem as a city, is
compactly built together
Unto that place the tribes go up,
the tribes of God go thither.