Tuesday, December 17, 2019 Colossians 1:11-14
11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
I’ll bet that some of you remember when the candles on the Advent wreath were purple. By the time I became a church goer, the color for Advent in some denominations was blue, but it is still purple for many traditions. The color blue is intended to represent hope, Mary (who is often depicted as wearing a blue robe), and the sky, which is a reference to Jesus’ second coming. The color purple is a penitential color. The paraments are purple during the season of Lent as a call to repentance and solemnity. Lent is a time of introspection and reflection on those things that separate you from God and from neighbor, in preparation for Easter, one of the major festivals of the church. For a long time, Advent had the same emphasis, repentance, introspection, and spiritual preparation for Christmas, another one of the major festivals of the church year. In more recent years, since my church-going lifetime began, Advent has taken on more of a hopeful feel and has lost some of its penitential focus. Nevertheless, so many of our readings in this devotion, including our reading for today, have reminded us that one of the things that we are waiting for during Advent, one of the promises of the baby of Bethlehem is the promise of forgiveness.
In our reading for today, we find the already-not yet tension that exists in so much of our faith. Just before Advent begins, we recognize that Christ is our King, but when we look around our world, and even our lives, we recognize that Christ’s reign is not acknowledged in the world or even, consistently in the lives of his followers. On Easter we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, and yet, on Ash Wednesday we are reminded of the sin that leads to death and we are told that we are dust and to dust we shall return. God’s promises are true, but they are not yet fully realized. Because of that already-not yet tension, the author of Colossians can say, with confidence that we have already been transferred out of darkness and into the kingdom of the beloved son and can say that we already share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Those things are our reality. But he also has to counsel patience and endurance, because it is also our reality that we live in a not-yet world. We still live in a world where darkness seems to have plenty of power and where the saints in light feel far away.
And so, we wait, penitent and hopeful, patient and impatient, all at the same time, already experiencing the blessing of life with Christ, but longing for its fullness. One of the blessings of life with Christ is that for those times when we doubt, for those times when we are impatient, for those times when we are tempted by the kingdoms of this world, rather than the kingdom of the beloved son, we are forgiven.
Let us pray. God of forgiveness, you have already poured out your blessings on us. Give us patience and endurance while we wait with confidence for the coming of your Son, the beloved. Amen.
Submitted by: Pastor Amanda Warner