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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, July 16, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Colossians 1:15–28

He 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, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and 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.

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a minister of this gospel.

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its minister according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (NRSV)

Are you sitting up straight? The question was generally asked not to spur a response but a reaction: Straighten the spine, square the shoulders, lengthen the neck. Breathe deeply. As far as admonitions go, it was a gentle one: Isn’t is nice to sit up straight—and not slouch? 

Much of Paul’s letter to the Colossians was a gentle admonition. Concerned that the congregation at Colossae had grown weak in its faith practice—and was drifting from the central message of redemption through Christ—Paul aimed to lead these worshipers toward the true meaning of Christian belief. Somehow, from a distance and from prison, Paul had to convince this congregation to stop slouching.

What if I took today’s passage as a reality check on my own religious life? Especially as I move through these summer months, am I slouching in my faith? Sociologist Peter L. Berger would observe that in order to be a person of strong faith, one begins at the beginning: by engaging in the daily practice of the believer. “Help thou mine unbelief,” it turns out, has much to do with the way we order our lives.

This is where I’m grateful for our church: when I’m surrounded by fellow worshipers in the sanctuary or chapel, the collective presence causes me to sit up a little straighter. When I join others in prayer, even remotely, I breathe in a little more deeply. And when I hear the joyful noise of our congregation, I am moved by the way we can, together, carry the miracle of reconciliation into our world.

Lord, we thank you for all the ways we are drawn nearer to thee. May our actions this day, as people of your living word, cause us to breathe deeply of your Holy Spirit in the world and to stand a little taller in our faith. Amen.

Written by Sarah Forbes Orwig, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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