January 1, 2010
(This letter adapted from a sermon I preached on December 27, 2009.)
Dear Grace Church Family,
Colossians 3:12-17 could easily be our church family’s theme passage for 2010. Let us return to these words again and again, until we live and breathe them. In this time of trial and division, we need to learn – and re-learn – how to be a Colossians 3 church. Read Paul’s words, verse by verse:
12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
What good news! We are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved. Everything we do is a response of gratitude for God’s grace and mercy. And what does Paul tell us to do in response to God’s mercy? He encourages us to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Have a compassionate heart for one another. Be kind to everyone. Be humble – don’t think too highly of yourself or your perspective. Be meek, gentle with others’ feelings. Be patient. Take time with one another. Be quick to overlook another’s anger or outburst. Be patient when a sister or brother in Christ disagrees with you. You cannot change someone else’s mind for them.
Think of when your family members get together for Christmas. Do you all have the same perspective on politics or society? Do you let those differences keep you apart, or do you learn to live with them? It’s the same with your church family.
13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
We are a church family. No family is perfect, no family is free from conflict. Forgive one another, as God has forgiven us. Bear with one another. Don’t abandon one another.
14Above all, [says Paul] clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Beloved, love one another. Bind us together with love. Remember Jesus’ Great Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the core of God’s law. They will know we are Christians by our love – for one another, and for others.
15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
That’s why we share the peace during the service. We are sharing Christ’s peace with each other. Paul says that we were called in the one body to the peace of Christ. Peace. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. And be thankful.
16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
Read the word of God, teach one another. Worship God with gratitude in your hearts. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” The “you” in this verse is plural. Let us immerse ourselves in the fullness of the good news of Jesus Christ.
17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Do everything in Jesus’ name and out of thanksgiving to God. There is no part of our lives where we cannot serve God. Everything we do as a church needs to be done in Jesus’s name and out of gratitude for the grace of God. The bottom line: as we move into 2010, it is time for our church family to be united as the body of Christ in fulfilling our mission: Grace by grace, seeking to be God’s faithful people. A good way to start is by resolving to be a Colossians 3 Church!
God’s work. Our hands.
Pastor Eric Lemonholm