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 achieve.....you'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'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.