Tuesday, July 2, 2013


New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
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[a] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 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. 11 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 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled[b] you[c] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.[d]
The Supremacy of Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in[e] 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. 17 He himself is before all things, and in[f] him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,20 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.
21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled[g] in his fleshly body[h] through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—23 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.

Paul is in prison in Rome when he writes this letter to a Christian Church he has never visited. This community was founded by Epaphras in Colossae, Asia Minor (Turkey) after meeting Paul in Ephesus, on Paul’s third missionary trip. The verses above are part of Paul’s introductory remarks, reminding his readers of the order of hierarchy in Christian faith:    

Jesus is the head, the beginning, the firstborn, the fullness of God. We who follow Jesus have been rescued “from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son”. We were “were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” but now are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus.

Words such as “darkness” and “evil” still live with us today: they are found in movies and books - sometimes linked to vampires and aliens and zombies - but more often used to describe murder, rape and abuse. Furthermore, many world leaders identify evil in political oppression and corporate greed, and rally nations to resist that which brings darkness.

That said, we live in a world that no longer appreciates words like “darkness” and “evil” when used by people of faith. This is often because followers of Jesus have used these words as labels for people who disagree with their point of view. I have seen Christians campaigning against the evil deeds of homosexuals and the darkness of Muslims. Once these labels are fixed to people we Christians have lost the opportunity to speak to them.  

Let us learn to distinguish between that which is truly evil because it kills off love, and that which we want to label evil because it does not support our point of view.  

Fifth Sunday after Trinity
36 The Power of the Gospel
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 225.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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