Col 3:9-11 ........you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
The Church at Colossae began through the work of Epaphras, who had met the Apostle Paul in Ephesus. He was from the town of Colossae, about 192 km (120 miles) east of Ephesus. Paul then sent Epaphras back to his home region where he planted churches in Colossae and in the neighbouring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis. The Colossian congregation met in the home of Philemon (Phm 2). Epaphras then rejoined Paul, and it would seem that they were imprisoned together, but expected to be released soon (Phm 1:22). Paul writes this pastoral letter to the church in Colossae, both to strengthen them in their faith and to alert them of his intention to visit them. He tasks his co-worker, Tychicus, to carry the letter to Colossae, accompanied by Onesimus, a runaway slave belonging to Philemon (Col 4:9), who had been led to faith in Christ by Paul.
I can imagine this ‘mixed bunch’ sitting with Paul: Paul, the Jewish rabbi; Epharas, the Colossian; Tychicus, a native of Asia Minor (Acts 20:4); and Onesimus, the runaway slave from Colossae. Together they embody the truth that “there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” (Col 3:11).
As you and I journey through Lent, let us repent of our difficulty in relating to people of other cultures and economic backgrounds – and commit ourselves to finding a Christian unity that transcends our human divisions.
What shall our greeting be:Sign of our unity?
JESUS IS LORD!
May we no more defend
Barriers he died to end:
Give me your hand, my friend:
One Church, One Lord!
Fred Pratt Green
Words © 1975 Hope Publishing Company
The Fifth Sunday in LentFrom Death to Life
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.129