By David Baumann
A Reading from Colossians 1:15-23
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 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. 17 He himself is before all things, and in 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 in his fleshly body 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.
After the warm and encouraging greeting in his letter and the urging to the believers in Colossae to remain faithful, Paul opens up a vision of Jesus whose magnificence is striking. It is cosmic in its scope; Earth is too small to contain this grand explosion of glory. Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation. In him all things were created, things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible.” Everything that exists has been “created through him and for him.” Then, as if that were not enough, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” Yet even this cannot sufficiently express all the splendor of Paul’s rhapsody. Through Jesus, God reconciled “to himself all things, whether things on earth or in heaven.” One can envision the power and truth of Jesus holding true a billion years from now, and into the farthest stretches of the galaxy. All of time and space are swelled to bursting with this dazzling glory. And then Paul lowers his sights to the humble folk of Colossae: God “has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Can anything be more desirable than this, even while it is utterly impossible to earn? And he urges them not to move from “the hope held out in the gospel.” Who were these believers? They lived in a small town in what is now Turkey nearly 1,900 years ago — people with needs, hopes, and anxieties; with friends and families; who earned a living. People for whom Christ died, whom he loved and redeemed — loved and redeemed with a supremacy for which the entire universe is too small. They were loved by the cosmic Christ whose ineffable majesty came down from heaven to show perfect love… to people like us.
David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield; he retired last year. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Anne’s Parish, Annapolis, Md.
The Diocese of Jabalpur – (United) Church of North India