Monday 21st September 2020
Colossians – Greetings
Colossians 1: 1 – 14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow-servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
This letter was written in the context of a different empire from that of today, in a time when Christianity was only just beginning to grow and develop and there were many challenges to faithful following and believing. Yet today, with the decline of Christianity in the west, some of the challenges remain the same – the challenge to find a distinctive Christian identity and to speak and live out the Christian faith with wisdom and understanding.
One of the challenges today is the contemporary emphasis on the ‘turn to the self’, where ‘what I think’ or ‘what I do’ is what matters most, rather than having a loving care for, or being in relation to, one another and God’s world.
This letter opens with words that remind us of our mutual belonging – both to God and to one another. This mutual belonging is embodied in our prayer, prayer that opens our lives to God and what God makes possible in our lives.
There were many ups and downs in the life of the early church, as the epistles often demonstrate. What’s interesting is that this letter starts not with criticism, but with thanksgiving, followed by a prayer for the people of Colossae, that they may be strengthened in their faith. It’s based on the understanding that the people are united in Christ, whatever their differences may be, and that God will lead each one to grow in the knowledge of God and the ability to live out this knowledge in service of others. People are not left on their own. Each one has a place and a purpose in God’s love.
In an increasingly polarized world, the possibility that the Christian faith offers for mutual belonging and affirmation, for thanksgiving and wisdom, is an ever more valuable gift.
Wise and loving God,
fill me with your wisdom and understanding,
may I grow daily in my knowledge of you.
May my life be pleasing to you.
May I bear your fruit in the actions I take.
May I be strong with your strength.
May I be patient when faced with challenges and in times of difficulty.
Fill my heart with thanksgiving for the people with whom you call me to live and share together.