Proper 11 Year C Colossians 1:15-28
July 17, 2022
“Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 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. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things.”
Who is Jesus to you?
This question is one posed to those considering ordained ministry.
The answer may seem obvious, even simple to answer at first,
but when you begin to form
your precise understanding of who Jesus is,
when you write down in an orderly way
who Jesus was historically
and who he is as Savior and Redeemer,
there is a lot to consider.
There is a good bit to get right.
More importantly, perhaps,
when you are learning NT theology and church history in seminary,
so that you can teach and preach to others who Jesus is,
so that you can defend your answers
in front of an examining board of chaplains,
there is a good bit not to get wrong.
this question is not one just for seminarians, or preachers,
or Sunday School kids.
“Who Jesus is,” informs “who we are” as Christians.
Every one of us needs to wrestle with this question.
Now I know how folks hate to be put on the spot.
We all think there is one right answer,
or a list of correct answers,
and we do not want to look dumb, forgetful, or just feel stuck in a test.
If there is one recurring dream people have in common, it is that we show up for class and there’s a text that day.
So relax, there is not a quiz to take at the end of this sermon.
(The altar guild recently took a quiz with me at a Saturday morning training, and we had a lot of laughs. They thought it was just going to be brunch. You’ll be glad to know they did very well—AND, they are pretty darn educated about their work!)
But if I did have a quiz, this is the question I’d ask you: Who is Jesus to you?
Because I believe
“Who Jesus is,” informs “who we are” as Christians,
who we are as a Church, and what our purpose is?
This is the teaching the letter to Colossians offers the newfound Christians.
Who Jesus is.
In what we read today,
the author answers this by reciting part of an ancient hymn –
you can hear creedal statements in its beautiful wording and rhythm.
“all things have been created through him and for him”
“things visible and invisible”
The set-up to this, we read last week.
The people of Colossae hear from Paul that his coalition
has not ceased praying for them
and asking that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will
so that they may lead lives worthy of the Lord.
that they May be made strong and
prepared to endure what is to come.
In other words, these new Christians heard
they are called to serve the world,
through the life and teachings of Jesus,
made strong by the knowledge of the love of Christ.
As most of you know this past week
I returned from our Episcopal Church’s General convention—
the governing body of our denomination.
In my absence, our very capable senior warden led Sunday worship,
and preached a fine sermon.
He witnessed to his powerful experience
of coming to this church as a young adult,
and being inspired by the church’s teaching of who Christ is,
and who we are called to be — risk takers, for the sake of love.
This is just what I heard over and over at convention.
As followers of Jesus, the one who risked it all,
The one who crossed barriers to serve the oppressed,
and went out of his way to lift up the poor,
who gave his whole life for us, we are called to be risk takers.
As one witty speaker at convention said,
we are not here for just us.
We are here for Justice.
The TEC has a lot of work before us.
Part of which is looking back at where we’ve erred,
and repairing the breach, as Isaiah says.
Part of which is looking at ourselves now,
and taking risks for the love of Christ.
Part of our work is looking forward,
at how we grow and become the church Christ would have us.
The early church grew leaps and bounds by opening its doors to all,
offering equity to all.
Following in Jesus footsteps.
Who is Jesus to you?
A first century Jewish man,
born to a mother named Mary and an adoptive father named Joseph.
Jesus grew up in the occupied land of Palestine, subject to Roman rule.
Jesus was a man called by God to teach and heal
and inaugurate the coming of God’s kingdom.
Jesus was an itinerant preacher,
gathering disciples from all over Judea, both men and women,
old and young, those considered clean and unclean.
Jesus was a threat to the authorities
who worried that Jesus’ following would get so big
that Rome would once again crush Jerusalem, so they crucified him.
Jesus was God’s son, who rose from the dead,
and his movement gained a following amongst so many people,
amongst both Jews and Gentiles.
Jesus Christ’s followers devotedly lived and died to uphold his truths
and passed down their faith through outreach, and epistles, and hymns.
Hymns like the one we read today in Colossians
which describe Jesus as the Christ,
the anointed one, the first born of all creation, the firstborn of the dead—
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.
…the beautiful words of Colossians may seem to describe someone
far from the Jewish boy born in the first century,
the itinerant preacher who sat on the grass by the sea of Galilee.
Yet the hymn gloriously captures the fullness of God’s purpose
in sending Jesus…
“…through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things.”
God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things.
Now the Church has been tasked with carrying on this work of reconciliation.
For us in the Episcopal tradition, we can read our charge in our beloved BCP.
Page 855 BCP
Carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world—healing and transforming injustice and brokenness in ourselves and our communities.
All for the love of Christ.
Thanks be to God.