06 April 2018

Homily upon Colossians 3

Chapel 04.05.18


Collect of the Day: Almighty God, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. We humbly pray that we may live before You in righteousness and purity forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Psalm 16

Reading: Colossians 3:1–7

3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

Hymn: 459/460


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." I think we sometimes have been tempted to hear that as always be thinking about angels and harps, streets of gold and the endless hymn of the redeemed, and not about planning what you need to pick up at Aldi's or how you're going to get the kids to their ball game and find supper for your family. Can you see trying it out on your boss? "I'm sorry I missed that deadline; you see, I was thinking about the things above."

And so you might be tempted to just dismiss St. Paul's injunction as just so much pious mumbo-jumbo. Things above indeed! When you can't even remember all the things below that you HAVE to attend to. 

I think, though, the angels with their harps and bowls of incense and the streets of gold and such, might not actually have been what St. Paul had in view. The great Revelation of St. John wouldn't have been written for some years till after St. Paul had penned today's words to the little flock of believers that gathered in Colossae, a little flock, but the way, whom he'd never even met in person. 

So what do you think he meant? To set your mind on the things above? I wonder if we'd get nearer to what he was inviting them into if we thought of "the things above" more along the lines of "from the perspective of Him who is above, Your Heavenly Father." He, after all, had just been writing to them about the danger of an earthly way of thinking. He reminded them of their baptism into Christ where they were buried to that whole old way and raised with Jesus through faith in God's powerful work. He reminded them that God made them, who were dead in their sins, alive together with Jesus by forgiving them all their trespasses. So they were forever beyond the religion of asceticism: don't touch this, don't eat that, and so on to try to make God love them. Instead, and this is right where our text picks up, you've been raised with Christ and so you seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. You seek His peace, His joy, His Spirit, His wisdom and His love. You seek what is His, because you seek HIM. 

Set your mind on the things above, then; learn to think with God's own perspective. His perspective of you and of others and of this world. Learn to see through the eyes of love. Learn to live out of the calm of His unshakable peace. Learn to delight in the secret and inner joy that in Christ your old life is dead and buried and in Him a brand new life is before you. His life. A life that will never end for you.

Paul was urging the Colossians and us with them to live toward the glory that will shine in us on that Day when Christ, our life, appears. And that means a life that is cut off from the old worldly way: the sexual immorality (if it itches, scratch it); the impurity and passion and evil desires and covetousness, which is tantamount to idolatry: seeking life in the persons or STUFF of this world and turning away from where real life is found: in Christ.

Set your mind on the things above; have the MIND that is from above and learn to see yourself, others, and all the stuff as God sees it; which is as it really is. You are people who have death behind them. You are people who enjoy a life that will never be taken from you. You are people who have been clothed in Christ. Eyes of love, then. People are not objects for you to use or abuse; your own body is not an object for you to use; the stuff of this world, every bit of it, seen for what it is: not the source of life or happiness or contentment, but a gift from the Heavenly Father, to sustain you as you journey to the full realization of the glory that is already hidden inside you and that is so much greater than the whole world itself! 

But what about the stuff I need to pick up at Aldi's and getting the kids to the game and the family fed and my work deadlines and all of that? Use your sanctified imagination for a minute. Breathe. Be still. Now shift the mindset. Shift to: I am in Christ. The old way is dead. I have been raised to a new life in Him. My sins are forgiven and they have no power over me. My performance or failure to perform cannot diminish the slightest bit the vast love that God has for me in His Son. The life of fretting and worry is buried; it's forever behind me. I am at peace. Time itself flows toward me as a gift from Him. I will attend to what or who it brings me, one at a time, in the peace that flows from Christ's love in the joy of His presence and I will seek to serve this day in the power of his love. And so with mind set on things above: you shop, you transport the kids, you cook, you work, you live. You literally live in Christ. And anything that doesn't fit in that peace, that joy or that love, well, it's not part of the life you've been placed into, is it? 

Now, one last thought: he'd hardly have been reminding them to do this if they weren't doing (or at least tempted to doing) its opposite. So yes, to people just like you and me: distracted and unfocused and fretful, to us, Paul props open a door from which streams a bright light of resurrection, serene, tender and loving beyond our wildest dreams. That's our real life. He invites us to practice living in it now, for it's where we will live for all eternity. And for that, all glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, at Aldi's and on the soccer field and in the kitchen and working on the project for your boss with the deadline, all glory to the Trinity now and ever and to the ages of ages. On things above. Love. Peace. Joy. Mind set. Amen.

And it is in that mindset that we join in prayer:


In peace, let us pray to the Lord. R.

For the peace from above and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. R. 

For the peace of the whole world, for the wellbeing of the church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord, R.

For this holy house and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord, R.

For Matthew, our Synod's President, for the Presidents of all our districts, for Pr. Richard Wokoma and all missionaries, for all our pastors in Christ, for all servants of the Church and for all the people, let us pray to the Lord, R.

For Donald, the President of our country, for all public servants, for the government and those who protect us, that they may be strengthened and upheld in every good deed, let us pray to the Lord, R.

For those who cry to God for healing and peace, especially those we have been asked to remember: Roger and Ruth, Allen and Jan, the family of Sam Cuputa, and those we name in our hearts…., let us pray to the Lord, R.

For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and need, let us pray to the Lord, R.

Taught by our Lord and trusting His promises, we are bold to pray: Our Father…

The grace of our Lord Jesus + Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all! Amen.

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