Wednesday 23rd September 2020
Colossians – Our Share in Salvation Colossians 1: 21 – 23
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.
“Keep the faith, baby” was a catchphrase in the church group I attended at university in the late 70s, connecting with the Liberation Theology which inspired us. The letter to the church at Colossae expresses it more formally, exhorting listeners to “continue securely established and steadfast in the faith.” A faith that sustained people living in a mixed place, famous for the wool from its sheep, on a trading route between towns, cities and countryside. People who had found in Christ a straightforward alternative to the mystery religions common in the area. Whatever they had been before, they were now won, reconciled and redeemed by his love for them. Their response was to show that love to others.
“Keep the faith, baby” is the title of a 1967 book of sermons by, and a 2002 film about, Adam Clayton Powell Jr, a Baptist minister who became New York’s first African-American congressman in 1944. A charismatic campaigner and controversial politician, he spoke directly against the attitudes and legislation which disenfranchised Black Americans. Combining church and society made sense.
As I write this the UK is on the verge of taking steps out of the Covid-19 lockdown. For eight weeks and counting, millions of people have restricted themselves to their homes, motivated by a desire to shield the vulnerable, protect the NHS, and save lives. Churches have closed their buildings and carried on sharing the love of God in other ways. People of all faiths and ideologies have made sacrifices as much for the sake of others as for themselves. Perhaps it is not so far off the church at Colossae being told to persevere, motivated by the hope promised to them in the good news of God’s love for the whole world. Keep the faith, baby.
God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
you have helped us to keep the faith.
When life has been cruel,
in times of desolation and heartbreak,
when we have been weary and resentful,
in places of threat and isolation,
when injustice has become routine.
Today, whatever we encounter
whether joy or ecstasy or terror or boredom
help us to keep the faith.