aloud to God,
(adapted from Psalm 77:1)
Jeremiah combines warning and judgment. Disaster is coming. It's inevitable. Everyone is taking flight. Yet, you are ignoring the warnings and devoting your attention to your pleasures.
The Lord tells Isaiah, "I''ll pardon the whole city if you can find even one person who acts justly and speaks the truth." Isaiah doesn't think there is even one. The poor don't know anything, and the rich don't care.
Destruction is inevitable. Flee.
Tangent: I'm reading from the NRSV in which all of this is laid out in prose. Other translations present this passage as a hymn. [I suppose the difference would affect whether I read this as Paul's original ideas or Paul's reminding the Colossians of something of which they were quite aware.]
In any case, we who came after them may read these lines as references to the Trinity. I had, anyway. Then, today, I read what was to me a new idea in Ronald Allen Clark Williamson's Preaching the Letters without Dismissing the Law:
An example of a wisdom hymn or saying in Judaism regarding Woman Wisdom read, "She is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness" (Wisdom 7:26); and Wisdom herself claims, "Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me" (Sirach 24:9)...The church expressed its faith in the language of Israel's Scriptures.According to Allen & Williamson, the term translated as "image" is in Greek, "eikon" connotes agency. Christ is the way that an invisible God can be disclosed to us. Further, as the firstborn, Christ "reveals not only God to us but humankind as well..." (15-21)
Back to the "in him all things hold together": the reconciliation came through the blood of his cross. We have been made holy and blameless and irreproachable (22).
Yet, we need to live up to the image that Christ provides for us. Paul adds "provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you have heard...." (23).
Paul is writing to an ancient congregation reassuring them and warning them, and his words still apply to us. Our congregations have their origin in the gospel, we are living out the image of God in our communities, we are held together by Christ, and we also need to be reminded that if our congregation begins to neglect our faith's requirements, then we will inevitably start to dissolve. Shifting from Christ to anything else would change what we would do, what we would be capable of doing.
Paul counsels, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith...." He's writing to a congregation that has already received instruction in the way that Christ intends for us to live and has already begun to live that way.
"Be thankful for this way of living," he tells them "and don't be misled by any alternatives."
Proverbs 24: 23-25
These are the sayings of the wise:
Partiality in judging is not good.
Whoever says to the wicked, "You are innocent,"
will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations;
but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
and a good blessing will come upon them.
Prayer for Today: O Lord our God, keep us faithful to your will. Keep us all faithful. Keep us together. Keep us always directed toward Christ is all we decide and all we do. Amen.