You can find out a lot through someone’s handwriting. I learned that first-hand as a kid. I was a naïve kid, and I loved Christmas. I still do, but I am less naïve. I have always noticed the distinction of my father’s handwriting. Since I was old enough to notice words and how letters are written, I knew that my Dad had a distinctive style of handwriting. My Dad is a brilliant architect, creative and economical. He was taught to write like an architect at the University of Florida and again at Boston Architectural College. My dad writes in all caps; always has, always will. One Christmas season, in 5th grade (I am embarrassed to admit) I was sneaking a look at the presents under the tree. I noticed that my dad had addressed a few of the presents for us from him and my mom. Fast forward to Christmas morning and the big gift that was brought all the way from the North Pole, on a Sleigh by a jolly guy in a red suit was addressed to RACHEL, SAMANTHA & AMY FROM SANTA. I knew immediately that Santa couldn’t coincidentally have the same handwriting as my brilliant Dad, but that Santa was in fact my Father and was therefore not real, simply a figment of my childish imagination. No, I did not need therapy, but I did learn to be more perceptive from that day forward.
The Galatians learn too that you can find out a lot through someone’s handwriting. At the end of Galatians, chapter 6, Paul makes his final attempt to let the new believers in the churches of Galatia know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is by his own hand that he writes these words.
Our final week of this church-wide study invites us to look once again at Galatians 6:1-18. Now since I preached last week on Galatians 6:1-10, I won’t repeat myself. Instead, let us focus together on the last eight verses. This is Paul’s last attempt to convince those listening to the false doctrine and counterfeit teachings to turn away and turn back to the truth of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul’s final admonitions and benediction begin with verse 11 which says:
“11 See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!”
This is Paul’s final attempt to help them see reason. In those days he had scribes or disciples himself that would help write down what he was dictating. He didn’t have a computer, or typewriter, or even a pen and paper; no, it was most likely written on clay tablets or animal skins. And so, Paul felt it imperative enough to write in his own handwriting these final verses. He did this so the readers would know that it is in fact him writing these final and most important words and not a false teacher. These last few verses were about how the Gospel of Jesus the Christ invites all people and all things to become new creations and how that is what really matters in the end. The arguing over circumcision and purity laws is but a waste of time if we are not becoming new creations. If that is not the Gospel that we are living into; then what is the earthly point?
I invite you to read slowly the final chapter of Galatians. I invite you to imagine Jesus writing these words to you; words that are meant to set you free. Words that are given to bring new life and transformation for all. Just as I learned as an 11-year old that my Dad’s handwriting proved what is make-believe, it can also prove what a real, freeing, and transformative. And so, in your own handwriting, sometime this week I invite you to write out who you were before you started following Jesus, who you are now and how you have seen the Holy Spirit at work in your own transformation. And then I invite you to share it. Send it to me, or another church member or pastor or friend because we want to hear your story, your testimony, your transformation. Because God is in the business of doing a new thing in each of us through the process of sanctification and I look forward to hearing, in your own words what new life looks like for you. Go in Peace