Week 7: Colossians

  • Day 1: Colossians 1:1-14
  • Day 2: Colossians 1:15-29
  • Day 3: Colossians 2:1-19
  • Day 4: Colossians 2:20-23
  • Day 5: Colossians 3:1-12
  • Day 6: Colossians 3:18-25
  • Day 7: Colossians 4

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen. 

sT. fRANCIS

Colossians isn’t an easy text to read. What I find both fascinating and frustrating about Colossians is that it affirms that all things were created by and for God, while simultaneously stating that while slavery is a terrible institution it is to be tolerated by slaves. Chances are that the author of this text owned slaves and needed to find a way to reconcile their lifestyle with their Christology.

History is full of similar arguments for the existence and acceptance of slavery. It was, after all, the South’s peculiar institution. Slavers used verses like the ones in Colossians to justify their ownership of and supremacy over those whom Christ created and died for.

Faithful living calls us to be honest about the ways in which Christians, including ourselves, have upheld systematic racism. The Doctrine of Discovery affirmed that Christians colonizers were justified in their actions of rape, genocide, slavery, and assimilation of the inhabitants of their “discovered” land because European Christianity was supreme over all other cultures. The United States, which was no stranger to the Doctrine of Discovery, used the idea of Manifest Destiny to rape, commit genocide, uphold slavery, and force assimilation on the inhabitants of their “discovered” land. The core of systematic racism is the belief that white Anglo-American culture is supreme because God said so.

Yes, Christ is the head of the church, but the church is made up of people who for centuries have  perpetuated a system in which they are superior and therefore can do whatever they want to all that God has created out of nothing.

Faithful living demands that we live in such a way that all of creation is seen as created through and for Christ.  Amen.

1. In his book Born a Crime Trevor Noah writes, “But the more we went to church and the longer I sat in those pews the more I learned about how Christianity works: If you’re Native American and you pray to wolves, you’re a savage. If you’re African and you pray to your ancestors, you’re a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that’s just common sense.”  Do you see the idea of white Christian supremacy in our tradition/denomination/congregation? If yes, where?

2. If you answered yes to the question above what work do you think we should be doing in response to this supremacy?

3. Take some time this week to reflect on the role that the church has played in upholding systematic racism. This would be a good time to check out the resources suggested in week 2 of this study.

4. Reflect on the ways in which you use scripture and/or tradition to justify your harmful beliefs and behaviors. Take time this week to confess your sins and begin the work of reconciliation.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

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