Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts!
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always!
Prayer: Almighty God, whose only Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence: give us pure hearts and steadfast wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reading: Colossians 3:9-11
Remember who you are! Be what you are!
The apostle Paul starts the second half of his letter to the Christians at Colosse by urging them to remember who they are, and to be what they are.
Last Sunday we focused on vv1-8, in which Paul reminds the Colossians of their past life before they became Christians, and urges them to live new lives in Christ.
He writes “Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – is with Christ in God. He is your life” (vv3-4 in “The Message”).
Having listed (in vv5-8) the sorts of behaviour which are totally out of keeping with Christian life, Paul gives one more command in v9, “Do not lie to one another”. That may seem an anti-climax, but the social effects of untrustworthy promises and pledges are huge. Deception and lying within the Christian community breeds suspicion and distrust, and destroys common life.
Due to the Covid-19 threat, we are becoming accustomed to wearing face coverings or masks, and to seeing others wearing them. But Christians should be characterised by openness in our words and attitudes. In our relationships with one another, we should have no “masks”, but be honest and genuine.
The motivation and reason for living in this way are given in Paul’s next words in vv9-11: he exhorts his readers, including us, to “Remember who you are; be what you are!” There are two particular things to remember and act on.
1. REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM (vv9-10)
“You have stripped off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self”. These words relate to the custom of dis-robing and reclothing for the act of baptism. The reference is clear in Galatians 3:27: “All of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ”. (Of course, the mere outward act of baptism does not make anyone a real Christian, but Paul is referring to the faith which is signified by baptism.)
Paul has reminded the Colossians of their decisive, life-changing entry into God’s kingdom, symbolised by baptism. (See 1:13 & 2:12-13.) He urges them to act upon that baptismal repentance and faith, by being true to it, and becoming in fact what they were declared to be in baptism. For baptism is a once-for-all event, but has life-changing implications. Alec Motyer wrote “Baptism points back to the work of God, and forward to the life of faith.”
Paul continues in verse 10 “…the new
self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator”. We
human beings were created male and female, in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
But that image has been badly distorted by our rebellion against our loving
Creator. However, God has not abandoned us: he re-fashions the new nature of
the believer, which is the new creation. So “if anyone is in Christ, there is a
new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Erasmus wrote “By a Carpenter mankind was
made, and only by that Carpenter can mankind be remade.”
We sometimes sing “I am a new creation, no more in condemnation, here in the grace of God I stand”. We also sing “Finish then thy new creation: pure and spotless let us be”. We are people under re-construction!
Can you “Remember your baptism”? Maybe it was many years ago: maybe you were very young. Whatever the case, we are all to remember that by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we are clothed with Christ, a new creation. And we are to be what we are.
2. REMEMBER YOUR STATUS (v11)
In the world of Paul’s time, religious, cultural and social barriers divided nation from nation, tribe from tribe, family from family, person from person. Divisiveness and hatred were widespread. In v11 Paul outlines some of these divisions. (“Scythians” were a wretched slave class of people, “little better than wild beasts” as the historian Josephus described them.)
But these divisions are smashed apart by the gospel of Jesus Christ. So “here” i.e. in the community of new creation, there are no barriers of class or race or anything else. Galatians 3:28 puts it memorably: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I am reminded of the banner at the entrance to the huge tent used for the Keswick Convention every summer: the banner simply proclaims in large letters “All One in Christ Jesus”. (The “virtual” Keswick Convention takes place this week Monday to Friday: highly recommended!)
This truth can and should revolutionise our relationship to other Christians. We are all different (praise God!), sometimes very different. But in Christ there is no place for attitudes of superiority (or inferiority). Herbert Carson wrote “In a world still bitterly divided by race, colour and social status, and in which the Church too easily succumbs to conventional attitudes, here is a truth which needs to be constantly recalled.”
The key to this wonderful message of barrier-breaking is at the end of v11: “Christ is all, and in all.” The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who has the power not only to bring people together but to change them so that a genuine meeting of mind and heart is achieved. This kind of Christian unity is the result of a real spiritual revolution in individual lives, where the old self with its prejudices and hatreds is put off, and the new nature, the nature of Jesus Christ, is put on.
Remember your status – in Christ. And
remember the other person’s status – in Christ.
Remember who you are and who they are.
And be what you are.
Lord Jesus Christ, I would come to you,
live my life for you, Son of God;
all your commands I know are true,
your many gifts will make me new;
into my life your power breaks through –
The Family Prayer: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
To him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore. Amen.
Prayers for Sunday 26 July 2020
God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.
Heavenly Father as we are living in unprecedented times with situations we have not experienced before, we thank you for all those involved in front line services, caring and serving in so many different ways. We ask you to bless, encourage and continually strengthen them, giving them the resilience to ‘KEEP ON KEEPING ON’ as they face the many daily challenges.
Here you might like to pray for any known to you who are key workers.
Lord of life
Bring us your hope
We pray for our government especially the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Minister for Health, asking that you will give them wisdom beyond their own in all their decision making. As St Paul reminds us in Colossians, we pray that they will ‘speak the truth at all times’.
Here you might like to pray by name for other members of the government, local MPs and Councillors etc.
Lord of life,
Bring us your hope
The schools have finished for the holidays now, even though many children have been out of school for months.
Heavenly Father, we ask you to bless the young families as they look towards the children returning to school in September. Please give the parents and teachers the love, wisdom and guidance they will need. Help them to prepare the children to face the new term positively as it will be new classes, maybe new teachers, perhaps new schools and colleges, and new rules and regulations.
Here you might like to pray for specific families known to you.
Lord of Life
Bring us your hope
Heavenly Father, we ask for your blessing on our Mission Partners, Jeremy and Rachel and their family as they settle into their new home.
Please guide Jeremy as he has to make decisions with Mission Africa concerning his next trip to Burkina Faso. We pray for the churches which Jeremy serves and all the decisions that have to be made concerning the schools. Please watch over, bless, and provide for the orphaned children and those who have had to flee their homes because of terrorism. We pray that suitable accommodation will be found to house them. Please give Jeremy success with his grant applications to assist with the education and feeding of the children in secondary schools.
Here you might like to pray for Jeremy and Rachel’s family: Katie who is nursing, Tim who has just finished university and is looking towards his next step, and Toby who is studying for his A levels.
As we have prayed for Burkina Faso, you might also like to pray for other countries in the world which are on your hearts, where they are suffering from Coronavirus, war, terrorism, swarms of locusts (Africa) and brutal and corrupt governments.
Lord of life,
Bring us your hope
Our Father, as we remember Keith Evans we thank you for the valuable contribution he has made to the life and work of St Christopher’s. Please be near to each member of the family and we ask that Marion may be especially aware of Jesus walking with her as she faces the future.
We pray for those listed on our news sheet, together with all those affected by Coronavirus.
God of hope we pray that you will meet them at their point of need.
Where there is loneliness………bring YOUR presence
Where there is fear…………………bring YOUR comfort
Where there is no hope …………bring YOUR hope
Where there is despair…………..bring YOUR love
Bless them with your sustaining and healing touch.
And for ourselves:
Creator God, maker of all things, sustainer of life, teach us to rest in your provision, to live in your peace, and to trust in your perfect care.
Accept these prayers
For the sake of your Son,
Our Saviour,Jesus Christ
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Category: Sermons , The Bridge