Saturday, July 15, 2006

Revolutionary words that have become way too familiar to us

I have been praying about the situation in the mid-east with more fervor than usual. I have been reading and studying the Hebrew psalms lately, much to my own delight and consolation. I think that being steeped in the prayer of ancient Israel has opened me up to the immediacy and familiarity of modern Israel's struggle to live safely and justly amid peoples who not only keep the ancient enmities close to their hearts but also grieve their modern losses and nurse their current grudges.

I read the passage that follows in Colossians this morning, and it hit my ears like a Zen koan. The words are contrary to our inclinations and even to common sense. They've been cheapened over the centuries by our misunderstanding them, in our darkness, and using them to heap psychological guilt on ourselves and one another. But they so clearly call out the core of our Christian reality. How do we so easily forget the clarion call of the new life Christ lived, died and rose to give us?

"You are the people of God... So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.

And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body.

And be thankful. Christ's message in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct one another with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts. Everything you do or say should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father."

No comments: