Day 331 “Spiritual Mentors” Colossians 1 – 2
November 28, 2021, 5:29 PM

Day 331 “Spiritual Mentors” Colossians 1 – 2

Some of Paul’s letters sound the same, don’t they? Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon are all letters written from prison by Paul at around the same time, approximately 60 AD. And they have similar concerns. When people join a new faith tradition, but they don’t have good mentors (as the title of today’s passage suggests), it’s really hard to stay the course, remain connected and know how to live.

Think about the difference between joining a church and attending on Sundays, or simply trying to figure out your own thing without church or a community to depend on. Actually, this is why even contemporary pastors try to encourage spiritually-seeking people to become connected to a church. When I am not being taught new things, I am kind of figuring them out on my own without the help of people who have experience.

I think of it this way—what if your fourth grade child went to school to learn, and when she got there, she walked into a classroom and there were no teachers there, just a bunch of other fourth graders and a pile of books for them to study on their own? Could she learn the same amount of information in that teacher-less classroom as she would in a classroom that had the guiding light of a teacher at the helm? Probably not. Ok, definitely not!!

Why do we think we can do this faith thing alone? Why do we think we have enough information to figure it all out? Or why don’t we seek out reputable community to both support us and guide us on the pathways of faith? The pandemic has created unexpected community in some places—just look at our online services and bible studies!! Woo hoo! But it has also stolen some people from us, as we can see on a Sunday morning. We aren’t over the challenge of Covid yet, I know, but I wonder if some people will become completely disconnected from church and think they can make it on their own.

This is challenging because, as Paul reminds us twice today: “[Chist] is the head of the body, the church,” (1: 18). So church isn’t just an activity or something we choose to do, church is a person—the embodiment of Christ! And he encourages them to be steadfast and not to listen to different philosophies and empty ideas that will distract them from the knowledge of Jesus and his sacrifice.

And honestly, I think these next verses are soooooo important for us to hear today because even the Christian community is picking and gnawing at one another in ways that do not encourage unity, and the minute we see that idea of unity fall under self-righteousness, we need to pay attention.

“Therefore,” says our buddy Paul (I don’t think anyone in all of history has ever referred to Paul as their ‘buddy’. I just couldn’t help myself!) “do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God,: (2: 16-19)

“Quit it!”, Paul is saying. Quit complaining or thinking one religion has the edge over another religion or one practice is superior to another (think of communion when I say this, and the very different understandings that denomination hold about this), or special dietary laws that people promote, and stop criticizing other people for these kinds of things. Remain connected to God through Jesus in an environment where you can trust your teachers to give you good teaching, and learn to love others even in their differences.

At St. John’s one of my favorite moments of the service is when I am beginning the Eucharistic Prayer and a very few people lift their arms right up to heaven with me when I say “Lift up your hearts!” I look out at the congregation and almost everybody is quietly standing as we say these lines, but some people, only 3 or 4, are lifting their arms up to God like they want God to pick them right up off this earth right now! I feel that way myself, so it always makes me smile when I am up at the altar. And no one gives them the stink-eye or gives them a hard time about it. We accept it as being the way they worship, and they reach up for God as they feel called to do without worrying that someone is going to ‘say something’.

“Be one, as the Father and I are one”….that’s what Jesus said in the seventeenth chapter of John that we have already read together. I wrestle with this all the time when I hear about dissensions between Christian churches—and I don’t mean other faith traditions or practices that do not subscribe to the Nicene Creed, I mean churches that agree with the Creed as their statement of faith because that’s our common foundation of belief. But even with those traditions with whom we share the Creed, we can be judgmental, dismissive and mean-spirited. We don’t have to attend other churches or feel the same connection with other churches as we may feel with our own, but we need to recognize their place in the body of Christ.

So here’s a curveball question—if you were asked to write a letter about your faith, who would you address it to or send it to? Who would you want to teach or witness to about the power of Jesus in your life? What things would you want to include for the person or people that the letter was sent to? What would you want others to know about Jesus and his work in your life and in the world? How could you invite them to share the journey with you?

Just curious because this is what Paul did with his spare time in prison. I wonder who we care about enough to write to, or to speak to, or to invite to come to church with us this Advent and Christmas season?

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,


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