Thursday, November 15, 2007

Opening lines

Something grabbed me this week as I took a look at the Epistle to the church in Colossae. I don’t know what it was, but the opening touched me, and touched me almost to tears. It’s not particularly scintillating. These greetings to the church rarely are: “To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Nothing unusual there. It was the proper greeting of the day for those early Christians.

And then he let those dear Colossians know that he was praying for them, giving thanks to God for them. He had heard of their faith, and their love and their hope through his friend, and maybe that’s where it struck me.

“Have I told you recently that I love you?” Can you see why Paul’s letter struck a chord in me? “Have I told you recently that I love you?” But Paul didn’t stop there, of course. There is a prayer of thanksgiving, but there is also a prayer for the future of the church a prayer that in a gentle way urges the church on, gives us our marching orders. And so my prayers have not only been prayers of gratitude for you, but more. Paul continued: “I have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will ... so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord ... as you bear fruit in every good work.” (1:9-10)

Some of you have read Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Secret Life of Bees. There’s a passage in which Lily and August are talking.

“How come if your favorite color is blue, you painted your house so pink? Lily asks.

August answers, “That’s May’s doing. She was with me the day I went to the paint store to pick out the color. I had a nice tan color in mind, but May latched on to this sample called Caribbean Pink. She said it made her feel like dancing a Spanish flamenco. I thought, well, this is the tackiest color I’ve ever seen, and we’ll have half the town talking about us, but it can lift May’s heart like that, I guess she ought to live inside it.”

“All this time I just figured you liked pink,” I said.

She laughed again. “You know, some things don’t matter that much, Lily. Like the
color of a house. How big is that in the over all scheme of life? But lifting a person’s heart, no, that matters. The whole problem with people is...” “They don’t know what matters and what doesn’t,” I said.

“I was gonna say, the problem is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it.
You know how hard that is, Lily? I love May, but it was still so hard to choose

Caribbean Pink. The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.”

We know what matters. We know what God requires of us. Jesus made it very simple and very clear: We love God and we love our neighbor. We know that. But the really, really hard task is to choose to do that. And so my prayer for all of us is that as we grow in our faith and in our commitment to Christ, we will choose what matters; we will choose to do what God requires of us.

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