Sermon on Colossians 1:15-20

Each year, I choose projects for me to accomplish, and a few years ago, one of my projects was one that had been close to my heart for a long time.  I’ve been fascinated with monastic life since I was a teenager.  Obviously, I didn’t choose that life, but I have learned over time that one does not have to be within a monastery to make oneself aware of the Divine in all things, even in the smallest detail.  It could be something as simple as sweeping the floor from east to west, acknowledging the path of the sun that God set in motion, focusing on sweeping out not only dirt, but negativity; counting our blessings with each pass of the broom – this is but one example of how to live life aware, even in the mundane.  I’ll go over some suggestions for how you might increase your own awareness of God later in this sermon.  But in the year that I practiced this, I learned a lot.  And with the assignment to write this sermon, I’ve realized that I have a whole lot left to learn.

Colossians 1:15-20 has been described as a creed within itself, as a hymn, or even as Hebrew poetry – which some of you may remember I took a particularly obsessive interest in a few classes ago.  But reading through this passage, my mind kept returning to science, and the nature of energy.

Paul reminds the Colossians:  He, [Christ], 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.”  Through this, we know that Christ is the cosmic Lord, because He was the cosmic Creator.  Think about this:  we know that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  But He did so through the Word, the very manifestation of Himself that interacts with our human existence.  From John 1 we know that the Word is Christ, so we know that it is Christ who is responsible for everything in existence.

Our scientists will tell you that according to the first law of thermodynamics, energy can neither be created nor destroyed.  And yet, we just heard that all was created through the Word, through Christ, which would mean, that He created energy.  Now for the rest of the universe, that thermodynamic law is still in effect, and energy simply changes form.

In the broad scheme of things, everything in existence is made up of energy, vibrating at the particular rates that make things not only solid, liquid or gas, but the type of each category, like a gold, mercury or helium.  We know that things can exist with more than one vibrational rate – for instance, trees or mammals.  Now, I’m quite certain that my grandson and his dog must be more gaseous than most adults, given how fast they move.  And we’ve all heard that cows are contributing to climate change because of their own gaseous emissions, but that’s a completely different topic.

Turning to how scientists view the world as it interacts with that which we can see, we know that four fundamental forces account for the known phenomena in the universe.  The strongest force exists within the nucleus of – an atom.  You might have heard of one of the components of that force – the Higgs Boson, nicknamed the God particle, because it is something that binds the molecular particles together and these then act as the building blocks of creation.

The other three forces, infinitely weaker in strength include electromagnetism, one that results in radioactive decay, and gravity.  Gravity exerts the weakest force, and yet it shapes much of what we know about the universe.  One might say it creates the arena in which all the other forces “live and move and have [their] being” (Acts 17:28).

Or, as Paul puts it, “in him [meaning Christ] all things hold together.”

So, why is Paul talking about the creation and nature of the universe in his letter to the Colossians?  There are many theories, but one of the most plausible is that there were teachers in Colossae who were marginalizing Christ, focusing on His humanity and losing the “big picture”.  Many were forerunners to Arias, denying Christ’s divinity.  Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians that if we ever forget that Christ is responsible for the very existence of every last thing on earth or in the heavens, we have completely missed the point.  Our adoration, awe and focus should be on Christ.

At the same time, while Jesus wasn’t just born with the advent of His birth to Mary as a human being, He was born to bring about a new creation.  “Through Him, God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of His cross.”  As the visible face of the unseen God, He created the visible and invisible, setting the frequencies of the energies we interact with.  Being both man and God, He provides a way for us to participate in union with God through him.

But as Paul points out, we must be aware of Christ as God in all things.   If we want to participate in that union with God, we have to respect, no, not just respect – we must hold Christ in awe.  “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.”

It is through Christ’s sacrifice and manifestation as a human that He has ensured we all have the opportunity to participate in salvation, but we must choose to have faith in that opportunity.  Salvation is not an automatic inclusion.  He is the firstborn, because He shows us the way to God.  He exemplifies how we, as humans, should behave and think.

People don’t often consider how we think.  Many people believe that we have opinions within the privacy of our own homes, while our public faces and opinions are formed to be more socially acceptable in a broader arena.  However, thoughts, despite being invisible creations, are also forms of energy.

What we need to realize is the fallacy that there is a difference between our private and public thoughts, because Jesus is Lord over all.  Choosing to participate in the salvation Christ offers will include choosing, every day, to keep Christ at the forefront of your thoughts, to be aware of Him as the creator of all things.  Now, the Church can help you do that, through prayer, participating in the sacraments, and Bible studies, and certainly being in a place where you are surrounded by reminders of God makes it easier here to be aware of Christ.

But let’s put ourselves back at home.  Think of an argument you’ve had in the recent past.  Take a second, and when you have the one you want, put yourself back in that moment – close your eyes from the beauty around you here if that helps.  Don’t rehash the argument that might have made this a tough day.  Just get that argument pictured clearly in your mind.  (Pause)  Now freeze it.  Start looking slowly at the scene around you.  Where is God?  Look at the other person or people, and think, what might have been able to remind you that they are a child of God?  What thoughts might have been traveling in their mind?  Is there anger involved?  What is the underlying fear that might be causing that anger?  Could you have inserted the peace of Christ into that day?  What could you have done to be aware that Christ was there with you, in your thoughts, in the thoughts of the other people?  Being aware of the one who created everyone there in that moment is not an easy task.

So let’s look at some ways to practice that awareness.  As followers of Jesus Christ we should strive to have homes where Jesus is always welcome and knows that we are choosing to participate in the salvation He offers.

Being aware of Jesus in your home means He would feel comfortable watching what you watch, listening to what you listen to, joining in your conversations and reading your magazines and books.  And as I listed those things, your minds probably went to the most inappropriate things in that list, that you likely wouldn’t have wanted Christ to see.  An awareness of God in all things is not necessarily a comfortable thing initially, but honoring Jesus in your home in this way means that His presence is always taken into account.

Make Him the unseen guest at all times. Some people leave an empty chair at the table to remind them of His presence, and sometimes a physical reminder of His spiritual presence can be helpful.  It can help you choose that salvation that you truly want, by helping you to avoid the temptation to be aware of Christ’s presence to a Sunday thing, done in public only.

Make a practice of meditating on Christ and His Word. Out of sight, out of mind is more than a saying, it is a truth. The more you meditate on Him and His word the more you will be cognizant of His presence with you.

Make a practice of talking with others about Him. One of the ways we honor not only Jesus, but also our own baptismal vows, is to speak to others about Him.  This also helps others to become aware of not only who Christ is, but what He offers to us.

Take a walk with God.  Consciously work on noticing just how the world fits together, how nature works, how the plants grow, the insect interactions with each other and with plants, how the sun shines on everything.  Think about how your body moves with each step, and the marvelous design created for humanity.  Notice the animals around, how they were designed and move.  Think about the complexity of the automobile passing by , and break it down in your mind to its component energy parts.  Know without doubt that Christ was at work there.

We can also ask God to open our spiritual eyes to see where Jesus is in our everyday and commonplace experiences – in our arguments with others, in our joys and sorrows.  God is at work around us, enabling us to participate in the salvation provided by Christ to humanity.  The more sensitive we are to His working, the more we will be aware of opportunities to join in union with Him.

Keeping Christ in mind as the creator of all creation, macro- and micro-cosmic, as well as knowing that He created an opportunity for us to participate in salvation through His own sacrifice, will help us to follow the example that He set.  We have to remember that our salvation is not dependent on what is socially acceptable, but rather what is right in God’s sight.

Let’s pray, remembering that God in the Holy Spirit is with us always.  Breathe into me, O Holy Spirit that all my thoughts may be holy.  Act in me, O Holy Spirit that my work also may be holy.  Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.  Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy.  Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit that I always may be aware of your presence.

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