Receiving

Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds expressed in your evil actions. But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him — if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for his body, that is, the church. I have become its servant, according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.

For I want you to know how greatly I am struggling for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me in person. I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery — Christ. In him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable. For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.
— Colossians 1:21-2:5
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I wrestled for quite some time with feeling like I was in the right place to be able to teach again, both in the church and now, in the university setting. It wasn’t as if I felt far off from God, but a lot has shifted from November of last year to today; the many qualifications I lauded and praised myself for in order to feel adequate then made absolutely no sense anymore. So finally, with sincere heart, I have a full sense of my need, which I feel consistently every Tuesday and Thursday, and again this past Sunday. 

It’s good to be back.

Much like the false hierarchy I had created in order to feel worthy, the church in Colossae had many setting up tiers and boxes full of specific actions and steps in order to move your way up and closer to God. In doing so, what is truly created is a space where God is actually not needed at all. When the emphasis is placed wrongly, when the Sun is not in it’s central place in orbit, we tend to miss the point entirely, things inevitably destroyed through the shift in gravity. 

The past was that we were not right with God, but, our present has changed not because of our own actions, but because of the reconciliatory act of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection, our new future marked by being holy, blameless, faultless. The gospel covers the gamut.

Not even a conditional statement can change that. 

The actions that we partake in to remain grounded, steadfast, always involve receiving. Yet, lest anyone be confused, receiving always invokes a response. What is never left open-ended in the text is the call to live as Christ did. To live holy, faultless, and blameless as it stirs up Old Testament sacrificial language is to live as a living sacrifice, Christoform. 

If anyone wants to follow after Me, deny oneself, take up your cross.

Michelle Van Loon brought a fresh reminder of the practices that come with Rosh Hashanah, which occured this Sunday evening. The ceremony called “Tashlich” or translated as, “casting off” brings many practicing Jews to a river or stream with pieces of bread in hand. As passages are read aloud, they are encouraged to quietly name sins against God and toss those pieces into the river, as they watch their prayers of repentance take visual form in being literally washed away. After, they enjoy honey and apples together, another visual and edible reminder with sweetness on lips, enjoying the good news of repenting as they “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Christ has done it, he is doing it, and he will do it. 

It is finished, but He is not finished with us. 

Receive the grace and gift of unity with Christ.