Lectionary reading for 12/20/2021: Psalm 113; Genesis 25:19-28; Colossians 1:15-20
Selected passage for reflection: Colossians 1:15-20
Consider these two versions of Colossians 1:15-20 to experience how word choice broadens our understanding and can spark our imaginations as we meditate on these words. The Message is a modern language paraphrase, and the New Revised Standard Version is a word-for-word translation.
Colossians 1:15-20, The Message translation
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
Colossians 1:15-20, New Revised Standard Version
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
As a writer, I have often pondered the idea of making “the image of God” the focus of a blog. I even went so far as to purchase a domain name to begin building my website. But, in all transparency, I have often felt unworthy of taking on such a lofty task. I am far from having all the answers to what it means to be made in the image of God. Let alone feeling empowered enough to teach others how to act on it.
Yet this topic keeps pulling me in. For several years, I have been captivated by the richness of the image of God. I ruminate on what it means to be made in God’s likeness. I think of the creation in all its complex, stunning diversity--evidence of a masterful Creator at work, crafting astounding and extraordinary masterpieces.
I consider how this phrase, so simple, speaks to what is so profound: grasping what we can of the unfathomable nature of God. How we can more fully recognize ourselves in light of it. How we may journey forward, forming and reforming our steps as we dare to dig deeper into and embody this truth.
And here, in Colossians, I find the pivotal key to understanding God’s image:
Jesus is the image of the invisible God… the exact representation of God’s being… in Jesus all the fullness of the deity was pleased to dwell.
In Jesus, we have the breathtaking example of what it means to experience God firsthand. In flesh and blood, we see with our own eyes, hear with our own ears, and touch with our hands the Lord of all creation.
Despite all our past, present, and future distortions of who God is and what God wants for us, we have in Jesus the evidence of God’s true nature. We can look at the biblical record of Jesus’ life and get a long glimpse into the Holy One.
On one of the darkest nights of the year, we can witness the Light of Life as our North Star. We can begin to see that God is not made in our image. God is not the angry, bearded taskmaster we have sometimes thought God to be. God is the One who walked the earth, calling Peter to walk on the water, not hesitating to reach out to grab him when he started to slip. Jesus is the One who healed, fed, and taught crowds. The hands of God, reaching out with healing power and love.
The One who raised the dead.
Who mourned and wept.
Who allowed disciples to recline on his shoulder.
The One who died on the cross for our sake.
And Jesus is the One who will come again, in victory and in power.
Take a few minutes to be still. Choose one or more ways to engage your senses as you meditate on what it might have been like to encounter Jesus in real life. Use any biblical stories you may be familiar with to imagine what Jesus may have looked like, sounded like, etc. Try to put yourself in the story.
Listen to/Watch Pentatonix - Mary, Did You Know? (Official Video)
Create a work of art based on the images and feelings that arise from your meditation
Sip a cup of hot cocoa, tea, cider or coffee. Be still and feel the warmth of the drink as you meditate on today’s passage.
Spend time with a friend or family member this week, and practice being present with them. Listen, make eye contact, and practice being fully engaged to experience who they are, and how they reflect God’s image.
Loving, tender, kind, strong, and merciful God. Thank you for being like no other. You alone are Lord. We look to You for the source of our love, strength, and hope. We celebrate You in this season. As we near Christmas, we ask for the warmth of your love to shine on us, on all of us. We all need You. Empower us and embolden us, Holy Spirit to reflect Your love and grace to all we meet. Speak to us and show us who You are. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
About the Author
Amanda is wife to Joey and proud mama to the world’s cutest fur-baby, Kona (the cute puppy who's now five). Amanda graduated from Northern Seminary in 2007 with a Master of Divinity degree. Her interests include writing, social justice, news, coffee, walking by the lake and laughing with friends. Every year she somehow finds new opportunities to engage in lots of existential questions and is always seeking her path, but is starting to understand that trusting God daily is more important than having all the right answers. Feel free to reach out to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org