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Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Today’s Reading | Colossians 1:11–19
May 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 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He 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. (NRSV)
In the early church, this text served as one of the loci of debates—called the Arian controversies—over the humanity and divinity of Jesus. This Arianism reached Germanic tribes through missionaries steeped in the belief in Jesus as an epic hero, which worked well for a tribal culture in which a mythic hero appeared in many legends, saving the people.
In the Christian story, what’s so powerful about this particular hero narrative? For me, it has to be both its context and its consequences.
War heroes often became the kings and princes of their time, but Christ the king is broken by the world and for the world. War heroes often had elite backgrounds; Jesus as the Christ was born to Jewish Palestinians who become refugees in Egypt, who could not find welcome at the inn, and who were caught up in quite the scandalous story. Joseph, whom we’ve called a “carpenter”—the actual translation of which could include our modern view of a day laborer—is not unlike an immigrant seeking wages through manual odd jobs.
But then there is this: the “firstborn of all creation.” Pause. Dwell there. Something happens in Jesus as the Christ, in which life bursts forth from his brokenness. He not only shows us a new way of relating to one another in and for the world, but in this relating to one another—in peace, love, justice, humility, forbearance, and truth—a new humanity springs forth.
We are called to this humanity, our true humanity. He is the firstborn of all creation, and we, creatures, can also be born anew, healed, and work as agents of transformation.
God of our understanding and beyond our understanding, remind me of my true humanity in Christ and teach me to wage peace, to love lavishly, to practice justice and walk humbly, to forbear and speak truth to power, that I might be your agent of transformation in and for the world. Amen.
Written by Edwin Estevez, Pastoral Resident
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