Sunday, July 17, 2016

"For this I toil and struggle..."

This Sunday's reading from Colossians will probably be ignored by most preachers in their sermons today as they will be more drawn to the story of Martha and Mary as related in  Luke 10:38-42. 
Paul's letter contains much meaty theology which should not go neglected since this was the message that Paul was preaching in the earliest days of the Church, but unfortunately his teaching is something that most pewsitters may not pay attention to because they, like Martha, are anxious to get on with the church service and the business of their lives.

So, sit at Paul's feet, forget about the cares and troubles of your day, and choose the better part of Colossians 1:15-28,
"He is the image of the invisible God,"
"He" being Jesus,
"...the firstborn of all creation;"
A bold claim, but bolder stuff is to come,
"...for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him."
 As 21st century Christians with a lifetime of attending church services, we should "get" this, but for 1st century Christians, new converts, Jews or Gentiles, Paul's claim that Jesus is God would have been a difficult teaching.
"He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
If Paul lived in the age of soundbites, these would be some of the words the media would choose to publish.
"He is the head of the body, the church;"
 How many times do we forget that simple fact?
"...he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything."
 Never miss a chance to mention the resurrection.
"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross."
We have in Paul's teaching a summary of the Christology being taught in the early Church. It is a timeless and precious legacy, and we must thank those ancient Christians for preserving it for us.

Next he explains what it means to us,
"And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel."
Next he tells what it means to him as well,
"I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints."
Finally a note to spread the word,
"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
For some odd reason, the lectionary chose to omit the last verse of Colossians 1 from today's reading
Colossians 1:29
"For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me."

It is important to remember and proclaim the source of our strength. 

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