Nov 2019, Christ Mountain Top
the Scripture, Psalm 23
Luke 23.33-43 (crucifixion)
Colossians 1.9-20, with Luke
Moment, Student Day/offering
section of Colossians is a prayer. The writer prays for the readers – that’s us
– to be filled with spiritual insight, gifted with patience and joy, fruitful
and powerful, wise and worthy. Then there is a transition. It is still prayer,
but rather than prayer for us it is thanks to God for all that God has done for
us and for all the glory of Jesus. It becomes poetic, more like a hymn, and it
raises all kinds of theological questions that it doesn’t bother to answer.
Because theology has to do with mystery. Because poetry is not about
explain. No, let me sum up. (Inigo)
not much that I can do. I just have to join in the song, repeat the rhythm of
the poetry, listen to the soaring language as it gives glory and thanks to God.
Father “has qualified you for a share of the inheritance of the saints in
light, … has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us* to the kingdom of the Son ⌊he loves.”
And this Jesus sums up all things:
sums up God – image of the invisible God
sums up all creation – the firstborn of all creation
sums up all things – things in heaven and things on earth, things visible and
things invisible, things that rule and things that obey
sums up the church – which is his body
sums up resurrection – the firstborn from the dead
sums up all things through his blood, by the cross
need better language, the writing of Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons from
sums up God: “The immeasurable Father is measured in the Son; for the Son is
the measure of the Father, since he contains the Father.”
sums up all things: “Thus there is one God the Father … and one Christ Jesus
our Lord who came in fulfilment of God’s comprehensive design and consummates
all things in himself. Man is in all respects the handiwork of God; thus he
consummates man in himself: he was invisible and became visible;
incomprehensible and made comprehensible; impassible and made passible; the
Word, and made man; consummating all things in himself. That, as in things
above the heavens and in the spiritual and invisible world the Word of God is
supreme, so in the visible and physical realm he may have pre-eminence, taking
to himself the primacy and appointing himself the head of the Church, that he
may ‘draw all things to himself’ in due time.” Irenaeus, Henry Bettenson, The
Early Christian Fathers, 76 & 81
story of Jesus is the story of all things – created, redeemed, held together, set
creates all things in partnership with the Father
redeems all things, through his blood by the cross
holds together all things by his Word
rules all things, on behalf of the Father
need more language, the poetry of Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John
call you and I seek you, in whom
history finds its body.
I go towards you and do not say “come”
where there is no record, yet where man was,
with his soul, his heart, desire, suffering and will,
by feeling, burnt by most holy shame.
an eternal seismograph of the invisible but real.
Man, in whom our lowest depths meet our heights,
whom what is within is not a dark burden but the heart.
in whom each man can find his deep design,
the roots of his deeds: the mirror of life and death
at the human flux.
the shallows of history I always reach you
towards each heart, walking towards each thought
– the overcrowding of thoughts, death of hearts).
seek your body for all history,
seek your depth.
Other Poems, 77
holds together all things?
pent-up energy of every atom
“swiftly tilting planet” (C.S. Lewis novel title) running in ellipses around
melting glaciers and expanding deserts
timbered rain forest and the new parking lot
Republicans and the Democrats
Syrians and the Kurds
white supremacists and the hated minorities
“lowest depths” and “our heights”
said that these things want to be held together. Nobody said that this work of
sustaining the world, of keeping it from flying apart in chaos, was easy or
simple or nice. Jesus holds together
the image of God and being embodied in the church
the firstborn of creation and the firstborn from the dead
said that this can be explained. It can, however, be a source of amazement. It
can, however, be a cause for criticizing the power arrangements of empire and the
fake news that resistance is futile. (See Brueggemann, Walter. Prophetic
Imagination: Revised Edition (p. 82).)
there is one thing does not survive the primacy of Jesus, one thing that
is not held together by our Lord: whatever else that wants to be first.
only way to survive the primacy of Jesus is to surrender. “He is before all things”
(Colossians 1.17). “He himself [is] first in everything” (1.18).
yet … and yet our delusions of grandeur do not bow the knee so simply. We tend
to resist to our last breath. We don’t want to say to our brother in the pool,
“After you.” We don’t want to say that to anyone else either. So, I appreciate
that this Christ the King Sunday also records for us the story of our
resistance to the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. We killed him. We
nailed him to a cross. We mocked his failed kingdom and his impotence. We even
went so far as to post the inscription: “This is the King.”
When Moses proclaimed the liberation of slaves to the empire of Pharaoh, he got
a firm “no.” And death was required for freedom. The prophet Jeremiah turned
grief into poetry and prayer because the empire was unable to recognize that
its end was near, violently resisting dramatic social change. When Jesus is
born, King Herod holds on desperately to a kingdom that is not his own,
slaughtering innocent children because they pose a threat. (See Brueggemann, 81-83.)
And when Jesus dies, every human being who ever lived or ever will live stands
in collusion with the powers of his time refusing to bow the knee, refusing not
to be first.
at the core of the human heart, Jesus the firstborn of creation becomes Jesus the
firstborn from the dead.
need more language, more poetry, more hymn. The new song “So Will I” (aka “100
Billion X” Joel Houston, Benjamin Hastings, Michael Fatkin, 2017):
of creation there at the start
the beginning of time
no point of ref’rence you spoke to the dark
fleshed out the wonder of light
of salvation you chased down my heart
all of my failure and pride
a hill you created the light of the world
in darkness to die
do have another choice. Instead of resisting the kingdom, we can welcome it and
pray that Jesus remember us. That is, not only do we ask Jesus not to forget us
when kingdom comes. We ask him to put back together a person who has been
dismembered by empire and power – alienated, rejected, taken advantage of,
despised, betrayed. We ask him to re-member us, to make us whole. “Jesus,
remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In fact, it is because Jesus
remembers each of us that he can sum up all things.