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Friday, November 23, 2007
Reign of Christ Sunday completes the church year. The readings for Sunday give us a variety of pictures of who Jesus is – firstborn of creation, righteous king, one who suffers and yet reigns over the world, the one who comes to show us what God is like. As individuals and as the church, we are learning as we journey with God towards the full reign of Christ. Colossians 1:11–20 The author of Colossians is not certain. Many scholars place its writing at a time after Paul’s death. The letter bears Paul’s name, likely an honour to a loved teacher bestowed by the writer. This letter warns the community against false teachers and, in this passage, speaks to the meaning of what Jesus has done. Verses 15–20 appear to be a fragment of an early hymn, perhaps one familiar to the Colossians. Christ is praised here as the image of God, agent of creation, and one who has redeemed and reconciled the world. The writer calls on the Christians in Colossae to join in giving thanks to God for the gifts they receive in Christ. The letter describes Jesus the Christ as the “firstborn of all creation” (verse 15). The Nicene Creed tries to describe this in the phrase “begotten, not made.” Jesus is the image (in Greek, ikon) of the invisible God, the visible manifestation in the world of who God is. Christ makes God visible. The hymn praises Christ as the agent of creation. All things have been created through Christ, and all things hold together in Christ. These words call us back to the reading from Hebrews 13:8 on September 2: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Through Jesus the Christ, the new heaven and earth are established. Colossians 1: 20 describes how, through Jesus’ death on the cross, God makes peace with the world. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is redemption for those who follow Jesus Christ. As were the disciples in Colossae, we also are empowered to live new lives in Christ. The other texts give us a variety of images of the reign of Christ. In Jeremiah 23:1–6, the prophet tells the people that Judah’s kings, called by God to be good shepherds to the people, have betrayed them. But God will be the people’s shepherd, bringing them to safety. God will raise up a righteous king from the house of David to bring about God’s reign of justice and peace. In the writings of the prophets, this one who will come was known as the Messiah, the anointed one. God is raising up a mighty Savior who will bring salvation, forgiveness, and peace, declares the father of John the Baptist in Luke 1:68–79. This Song of Zechariah is a prophecy regarding John, the one sent by God to prepare the way and to announce the coming of the Messiah. God’s Messiah is not one who comes in triumphant conquest, but one who serves through suffering for the sake of others. Luke 23:33–43 is the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus, by his death on the cross, provides a different image of kingship. In the midst of his own suffering, Jesus shows compassion and forgiveness. Jesus shows love to those held in low regard by society. It is the thief who recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. His prayer is ours – “remember us when you come into your kingdom.” Our Lessons for Sunday provide us with many different images of Jesus the Christ – the one in whom all creation is directed and held together; the good shepherd; the redeemer; the one who suffers, dies, and rises again; the head of the church. These images are pictures and symbols of what we cannot express fully in words. The images speak to each one of us in different ways. Which of these pictures speaks to you most clearly? What images would you use to describe the work and importance

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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