Today's Lectionary Text
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
I have always been fascinated by opening words. Reading the opening words in the introduction of a book. Creating the opening words of a sermon. Reading or writing the opening words of a letter, an email or social media post. Opening words can capture our attention or bring focus to content. And opening words create possibility to invite the reader to enter into relationship with the writer.
So consider opening words in the books of the Bible. Today’s reading contains the opening 14 verses of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church. Notice how affirming these words are, naming the Colossians “saints and faithful brothers and sisters,” to whom he wishes “grace and peace.” Then the following verses capture Paul’s prayer for the Colossians.
Note all that his prayer includes:
What a wonderful way that Paul begins his letter to his brothers and sisters. His prayer for them is so positive and affirming. And how about you and me? Today is Sunday and chances are you have or will be attending worship with your sisters and brothers in the faith. Gathering for worship is a wonderful time to speak affirmative, positive, words to our sisters and brothers. Why not use these prayerful words of Paul as a template to direct how to pray for and speak to your brothers and sisters in the faith! It’s a great way of using the power of “opening words” to open ourselves and others to the positive, life affirming gospel of Jesus Christ.
--Rev. Rick Saylor
Retired, Clergy and Congregational Coach
Prayer for Reflection
Listening God, I form words to express my faith, hope and love towards you and others. Let my words that I speak to others today also be an affirmative prayer sharing the grace and peace of the Gospel. So be it. Amen.
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