Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seeking What Is of Christ

By Colleen O'Sullivan
Brothers and sisters:  If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.  Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:  immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry… anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.  Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:1-5, 8b-10)

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.  Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”   (Luke 6:24-26)

Heavenly Father, in baptism you name us and call us your beloved sons and daughters.  Help us to live as those seeking what is of Christ, that one day we may appear with him in glory.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  We may have been to the moon and back, we may have the technology to know what’s going on anywhere in the world at any given moment, but all that aside, people haven’t changed much since Paul’s day.  Look around you on the street where you live, the place where you work, within your circle of family and friends.  Look inside yourself, if you dare.  Everything Paul, in the first century, said needed to go, seems alive and well almost 2,000 years later.  Everywhere we turn, we hear and use bad language.  We gossip about others and malign their characters.  We see the horrendous results of anger unleashed on others or turned inward on ourselves.  We give in to our greed for bigger and better possessions or our desire for power or our love of praise.  There isn’t a single earthly behavior the apostle mentions that isn’t still alive and well today!

In the waters of baptism, we die to our former selves and emerge as new persons in Christ.  Whether we’re baptized as infants or as adults, we spend the rest of our lives attempting to live that new life in Christ.  It’s far from easy to give up our attachments to the ways of this world.  Jesus knew that, just as Paul did.  As Jesus preaches his Sermon on the Plain in today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel, he warns us against getting too comfortable here and being too attached to life as we know it in Northern Virginia in 2013.  This isn’t our eternal home, and the “woe to” section of his sermon is addressed to those of us who are content with life as it is.  The “blessed are” lines exhort us rather to lives that are rooted in Christ.

In what ways are you attached to the things of this world?  How can you re-orient your focus to the things that are of God?   

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