Year C – Proper 13 – Colossians 3:1-11

Colossians 3:1–11 – “1   So if 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 is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!”

Summary – There are three foundational commands in this passage which form our outline of this text: 1) Set your mind on Christ (vv1-4). Since we are spiritually united with Christ in His death, resurrection and even ascension in baptism, we are to see life from that point of view. He contrasts the heavenly (rule) and earthly (slavery) (v2). 2) Consider yourself dead to sin (vv5-8). Setting our minds on Christ leads to obedience. Don’t offer any part of yourself to immorality (porneia), impurity (akatharsia), passion (pathos), evil desire (epithumia) (v5). These are all forms of greed, an excessive desire for more and more, rather than contentment in Christ alone. Greed is idolatry. Wicked desires that produce immoral and selfish actions are idolatry which is valuing and appraising something more than God. These internal desires are matched with “expressive” or “reactive” sins: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech must also be put aside. 3) Put aside the old self and put on the renewed self (vv9-11). Paul’s exhortation about honesty (v9) leads directly to putting off the old and on the new “self” (lit. anthropos – man) (v9). The image is of putting on clothing. We are new Adams and Eves, a new humanity (Eph. 2:15ff) and individually we should dress ourselves as renewed people in gospel knowledge (v10). This new “self” or “man” is an identity which is more foundational than our culture & heritage, our ethnicity, or our station in life, because Christ is all and in all (v11). The only identity that matters is being “in Christ.”

Insight – On vacation this year, I went from snorkeling under the sea to getting a tour of a cruise ship and standing at the helm of ship several stories high. I saw the sea from two very different places. Often in the NT we are invited to look at life from very different points of view. Ordinarily we are looking face to face with earthly problems of ordinary life or even extraordinary hardships. It is just in these times that we must join the captain and see the world from the throne room, “where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” When we do this, we do not become “so heavenly minded we are no earthly good,” rather we are no longer controlled by the passions and responses of our “old self” that was a slave to sin. Rather we are free to see ourselves as “in Christ.” Do you see yourself, first and foremost, as a disciple of Christ? Or do you see yourself as a composite of your nationality, your job, achievements or accomplishments, and status?
Catechism – Where is Christ and where we seated spiritually? At the right hand of God in heaven.

Discussion – How is “Christ our life” (v4)? Why do we need to Christ’s life?

Prayer – Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we come to you as your sons and daughters, grateful for the redemption we have in Christ. We have been united to Christ in His death and resurrection and therefore we are seated with Him spiritually. Grant that we may see life from this place of heavenly rule so that we may not continue in the sins of our old self, outside of this glorious redemption, but rather walk in newness of life and gratitude, claiming the forgiveness and renewal that was purchased by Christ. In His Name, Amen.

Year C – Fifth Sunday in Easter – Psalm 148

Psalm 148 (NRSV)

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Summary – This Psalm calls upon the whole of creation, in both of its divisions, the Heavens (v. 1-6) and the Earth (v. 7-14), to give praise to God. Verses 1-4 call for the Heavens and those associated with it to give praise to God, while verses 5-6 tell why it is that the Heavens should give praise to God. Similarly, the second half of the psalm, verses 7-12, calls upon those creatures associated with the earth to give praise to God, with verses 13-14 giving the reason why.

The Heavens are to praise God because God “commanded and they were created” (v. 5). He has also established them forever and ever (v. 6); and he rules the heavens with a decree, that is, he has ordered the universe to work in the way that it does, and it will not pass away. Praise God! The Earth is also to Praise God because God’s name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven. And he has lifted up a horn for his people, Praise for all his faithful saints, praise for the people of Israel who are close to Him” (13-14). Praise the Lord!

Insight – When we read about “the Heavens and the Earth” we tend to put up a dividing wall between the two. The Heavens are way up there, and the earth is down here, with us. We are on the Earth, and God is in Heaven, and one day we will go to Heaven. But when we think like this, we miss the whole point that the Bible is trying to tell us when it puts the Heaven and the Earth together like this. Verse 14 gives us a reason why the earth it praise God, whose glory is above both Heaven and Earth – and that is because God is near to His people Israel. If God is in Heaven, and we are on the Earth, how can God’s saints be near Him (verse 14)? How can a people who are on Earth be near to a God who is in Heaven? This is because in Jesus Christ, who is “the horn” mentioned here in verse 14, came to bring together all things in himself, things in Heaven, and things on Earth. In Jesus, Heaven and Earth come together. He is the bridge between the two worlds. And since we are united to Him in His death through baptism and faith, we are near to God who is in Heaven, and God is near to us. And this is why he came – to bring Heaven to earth together.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.   – Colossians 1:15-20 NASB

Catechism – Who is commanded to Praise God? The Heavens and the Earth.

Discussion – Discuss the sea monsters in verse 7! Discuss how heaven and earth are not separated worlds, but are inter-connected. What does that mean for how we think of ourselves, the earth, God, and Jesus? What does it mean to be near to God? Is it good or bad to be near to God? Encourage your children to see everything in nature as an expression of praise to God. The snow, the wind, clouds, fire, hail, trees, mountains, beasts, and kings – and yes, especially the sea monsters! It is important for us to be amazed with the creation and to see it as giving praise to God.

Prayer – Almighty God of Heaven and Earth, the whole creation gives you praise. Though your glory is exalted above the heavens, you delight to draw us near to you. Let us be reminded that in Christ we ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, and in Christ you come down to eat with us at your Son’s table. Grant us the grace to see all things being recreated and made new in Jesus. Amen.

 Submitted by Michael Shover