Thursday, July 22, 2010

In Relationship

Sometimes, when I am part of community prayer, and someone else is praying, I close my eyes and listen, picturing the person speaking. Instead of just seeing the pray-er as he or she is, I imagine the person talking to God. Not an invisible God, but a God, visible and present, standing or sitting in front of the person praying, listening.

The pray-er is speaking, and God is there, attentive and listening to the prayer. He might be leaning on the pulpit, or sitting on a chair that has been turned around backwards, so that he straddles it, and leans against the chair back. Every part of his body language, all of his non-verbal cues, are saying, "I'm here. I'm listening. I want to hear every word you speak."

It's an image of a God in relationship with us.

As I read the Colossians passage today from the lectionary (Colossians 2:6-19) my mind was wandering. I was reading, but not paying much attention. Then I got to the last line of the passage:

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.
I liked the poetry of it. I wanted to hear more. I realized I hadn't been paying much attention to the NRSV, so I got out my Message Bible and read it again.

I invite you to do the same. Read Colossians 2:5-23 from The Message.

I was immediately struck by the image of God, sitting in the room with me, giving me advice. I know it's Paul, writing to a church, but listen to it as if it is God.
  • You received my son, now live him.
  • You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out.
  • Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk.
  • Everything of me gets expressed in my son, so you can see and hear me clearly.
  • Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or're already in -- insiders.
  • I have raised you from the dead as I did my son. I have brought you alive, right along with him. Remember that! You are forgiven everything!
  • Don't put up with people pressuring you in unimportant details of religion. The substance of what you need to know is Christ.
  • Don't tolerate people trying to run your life or shape your relationship with me.
  • Remember and focus on what is important.
I know it should be read as if Paul (or someone like Paul) wrote it, but listen to it as if God is saying it (Colossians 5:5):
I'm a long way off, true, and you may never lay eyes on me, but believe me, I'm on your side, right beside you. I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct your affairs, and impressed with the solid substance of your faith in Christ.

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Blogger bob said...

Kim, isn't it the right way to listen to all scripture wheather written by Moses, or Isaiah,or Paul to listen as if God is speaking.

I like to think of scripture as having been dictated by God to Paul or any of the authors.

I know it's more complicated than that but we do call the Bible the word of God.

4:42 AM  

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