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Visions from The Catacombs, Week before November 20, 2016

Colossians 1:11-20

11May 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

12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for 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. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He 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. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and 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.

What I Am Learning:

For many of us this last week has been a week of sorrow.

Some of our sorrow is because of the horrible things Donald Trump said about Mexicans, women, people of color, Somali's and Muslims.

Some of our sorrow is because he won the election having said these things.

Some of our sorrow is because many are realizing that naming a problem like racism is not sufficient to reduce it.

Some of our sorrow is because many of us are now aware, as if for the first time, the plight of many white working people in the nation.

Our economic system and the significant technological changes taking place have left behind rural and urban, white people and people of color (even if not to the same degree). The problem is that instead of talking about this, Donald J. Trump chose to pit the left behind against each other.

This is not only a source of sorrow, but of fear.

  • Fear on the part of the vulnerable in our country
  • Fear for the vulnerable by those who recognize them as neighbors
  • Fear for the very fabric of the "we the people" that make up this country
  • Fear for our constitutional system of government

The experience of fear is not new in human history. Indeed we are finely attuned to fear.

The problem comes in when fear takes over, saps of our strength, and leads us to withdraw from the world. The problem comes when we see fear become the defining, ultimate vision of reality.

First century Christians had plenty of opportunity to experience fear. Caesar was in charge. His armies were everywhere. His tax collectors legion. No change was in sight.

In this context, the letter to the Colossians lifts up a vision of God's reconciliation of all things in Jesus Christ. This reconciliation happens through the non-violent love of Jesus Christ. In the "blood of his cross" and subsequent resurrection, Jesus empties this instrument of mass terror of its power and so frees his disciples from the icy grip of fear.

This vision for the reconciliation of all things honors the sorrow and fear in the current situation. Such a vision allows, even requires us to feel the sorrow and fear the human race is experiencing.

Such a vision, however, reminds us that fear is not the last word. Fear is not ultimate. Even the powers of government and the invisible forces of culture, while currently creating the conditions of injustice, will find their balance again because their creator will recall them to their purpose.

Such a vision helps us to see the situation of our fear is temporary and that the long arm of the universe is moving - and that we can move with it in the GREAT RECONCILIATION.

Such a vision gives us strength to endure the gap between the way things are and the way God will one day make them.

The reason we encourage spiritual practices is in part to take a break from the constant drumbeat of fear, and to let ourselves relax into God's vision for the world and to remember who we are: God's beloved children, sisters and brothers with all God's beloved children.