Hello friends! Today we are finishing the book of Colossians. As I finished reading this book I found it to be a very "spark notes" letter of Paul's. What I mean by this is that it feels like a sprinkling of every other letter we've read before without the (good) "bloat" of Romans. Oh fruits of the spirit? There's a little Galatians there. Grand spectrum of Christ over the universe? Add a dash Philippians. Stop being sexually immoral - Ah, Corinthians back at it again. Affirmation of women preachers running churches? Sounds similar to Paul's final greetings from Romans and so on and so forth. Sure, there are some parts of this letter that have been historically been used to oppress - and there is a real shame in that - but overall it's a letter of encouragement and inclusion. It's another reminder to read Paul not verse by verse or even section by section but letter by letter.
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
What does this reveal was happening at the time?
What does this teach me about Paul? Where was he at the time of this writing if I had to guess? How does that influence his writing?
- Commentary -
There is an important addition to the tough part of Colossians that is committed from Galatians regarding the whole "wives submit to husbands and husbands be loving" section that makes us all shudder inside. In Colossians, Paul writes "do not treat them harshly." This should be obvious but remember the story of Jesus intervening for a woman that was to be stoned for committing adultery. What Paul is saying is actually incredibly progressive for a culture and time where stoning was commonplace because effectively what he was saying is "no more to this practice. No matter what, treat your wives with love and do not punish them lest God punish you." Further, you should notice that Paul celebrates another women who is hosting church out of her house. Evidence like this continues to show that Paul was very "progressive" in the inclusion of the church.
A question I've often asked you to consider when reading scripture is "would Jesus say amen to this" and while I think that's applicable to Paul's writings I think we are also at a point in our reading and study of Paul to be able to ask "would Paul say amen to this" as well. I say this because we've seen Paul's writings be used as a weapon in the past and still today. How many churches do you know where women cannot teach a man or do not have a single elder or pastor? How insanely ridiculous does this sound now after all of the occasions where Paul is commending women that host churches?! When we read Paul writing "slaves submit to your master" what do you think Paul really means by this? I don't think it's that black and white. Sure, it's a good illustration of the reverent fear we should have before God but I don't think Paul actually advocated for slavery here. Before we quote scripture and use scripture to demean other human beings let's ask the most important question...would Jesus say amen to this?
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 324 - Hail Thee, Festival Day. I LOVE this hymn...well, actually, I've never heard this hymn before, but I love the idea of this hymn. You'll notice in the lyrics that there are different hymns for different seasons in the church. Isn't that a cool idea? Could you imagine how fun it would be to sing a beloved Christmas hymn all year but with lyrics that apply for Easter, pentecost, ascension and others? I love the idea. We need to do this more often!
(Get ready for some powerful music. There isn't quite anything that matches a hymn sung with the backdrop of an organ and horn.)
Refrain: Hail thee, festival day! blest day to be hallowed forever; day when our Lord was raised, breaking the kingdom of death.
1 All the fair beauty of earth, from the death of the winter arising! Every good gift of the year now with its Master returns: [Refrain]
2 Rise from the grave now, O Lord, the author of life and creation. Treading the pathway of death, new life you give to us all: [Refrain]
Refrain: Hail thee, festival day! blest day to be hallowed forever; day when our risen Lord rose in the heavens to reign.
1 He who was nailed to the cross is Ruler and Lord of all people. All things created on earth sing to the glory of God: [Refrain]
2 Daily the loveliness grows, adorned with the glory of blossom; heaven her gates unbars, flinging her increase of light: [Refrain]
Refrain: Hail thee, festival day! blest day to be hallowed forever; day when the Holy Ghost shone in the world full of grace.
1 Bright and in likeness of fire, on those who await your appearing, you whom the Lord had foretold suddenly, swiftly descend: [Refrain]
2 Forth from the Father you come with sevenfold mystical offering, pouring on all human souls infinite riches of God: [Refrain]
3 God the Almighty, the Lord, the Ruler of earth and the heavens, guard us from harm without; cleanse us from evil within: [Refrain]
4 Jesus, the health of the world, enlighten our minds, great Redeemer, Son of the Father supreme, only begotten of God: [Refrain]
5 Spirit of life and of power, now flow in us, fount of our being, light that enlightens us all, life that in all may abide: [Refrain]
6 Praise to the giver of good! O lover and author of concord, pour out your balm on our days; order our ways in your peace: [Refrain]