Thankful

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Colossians 2:6-7 (New Revised Standard Version)
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

in·car·nate
/inˈkärnət, inˈkärˌnāt/
adjective: embodied in flesh; in human form
verb: to embody or represent in human form; to make concrete an idea or abstract concept; to be the living embodiment of a quality or ideal

As we continue to think about what it would mean for us to be God’s love incarnate in the world, today we’ll briefly dig into these two verses from the letter to the Colossians. It starts out…

———————
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord…
———————

The word “have received” is paralambano in Greek. It comes from para (meaning closely alongside) and lambano (to aggressively take). Paralambano means to take ahold of something with serious intention, holding on to it tightly with both hands.

It does NOT mean passively receiving a faith tradition, simply accepting what you’ve heard.

It means taking what you’ve learned, challenging it, wrestling with it, questioning it, then claiming it and making it your own.

———————
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,

continue to live your lives in him…
———————

I have to say that “continue to live” is kind of a milquetoast, lame translation of a really great word in Greek: peripateo. Pateo is a verb that means to walk, intensified by peri, completely around, full circle (think of the English word periphery). Peripateo means to walk all the way around, to encircle, to fully encompass.

It means to comprehensively live all of life
in deep, powerful connection with God.

In our disconnected world, it’s not surprising that we find it so easy to disconnect our spiritual lives from our regular, walking-around, getting-stuff-done lives.

But we are called to take what we have learned about God — what we have received and owned for ourselves — we are to take that and carry it around with us as we walk through our life.

If you’ve heard me preach at Aldersgate or at my former church in Fort Lauderdale (Christ Church), you’ve probably heard me say these words at the blessing:

“Now what we’ve said with our lips, let us believe in our hearts.
And what we believe in our hearts, let us practice in our lives.”

That is what we’re talking about here with peripateo. Taking your faith, and giving it legs. Taking what you believe, and walking it out into the world, where your words and actions can bring healing and hope.

———————
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,

continue to live your lives in him,
rooted and built up in him and established in the faith…
———————

Three quick descriptors of what our faith needs in order to make it possible for us to truly live. Our faith needs: rhizoó (to cause to take root), epoikodomeo (to build upon a foundation), and bebaioó (to confirm, secure, establish).

Think about that progression: rooted, built up, secured.

If you’ve ever built a home, you know that the first thing you need to do is make sure that the foundation is solid and trustworthy. Then you build the structure, and constantly check during construction to ensure its stability.

Likewise our faith needs to be deeply rooted, nourished and strengthened through whatever means are at our disposal. But an intellectual faith, no matter how rich, is not sufficient. You need to build upon that faith, moving up and out into the world. And constantly we need to check back to make sure that what we are building in our lives and in the world are still in alignment with that original, strong foundation.

———————
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,

continue to live your lives in him,
rooted and built up in him and established in the faith,
just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
———————

Eucharistia is one of my favorite words in the Greek language. It comes from two lovely words: eu (good) and charis (grace). Eucharistia, thankfulness, gratitude.

The “Eucharist” is one of the words we use to describe The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, where we gather to remember and celebrate the self-giving love of Jesus Christ.

Eucharistia. God’s good grace. God’s excellent kindness. God’s surpassing mercy. I love that this progression in verses 6 and 7 ends with eucharistia.

We are called to take the faith that we have learned and made our own, out into the world as we walk through our days — rooted and growing and strong.

And we are to do this,
not out of duty or obligation,
but out of joy in what God has done for us.

Eucharistia!

And what, you might ask, has God done for us?

For that, tomorrow we’ll skip down to verses 9 and 10 of Colossians 2: “For in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.”

 

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