Colossians–word rarities (2)

The message of Colossians can be difficult even for NC scholars.  One particularly dense, poignant passage begins following the mention of things “not according to Christ” (2:8).  This expression sets up seven “in ____” phrases (e.g., “in Him”) and includes three rather unique words that Paul might even have coined.  Each of these words begins with the same prefix–“syn”–emphasizing the believer’s essential identification with Jesus’ death and resurrection.  We might call these words the three striking “syns”:

  1. 2:12 “together-buried”  συνταφεντες (syntaphentes)
  2. 2:12 “together-raised”  συνηγερθητε (synegerthete)
  3. 2:13 “together-made-alive”  συνεζωοποιησεν (synezóopoiesen)

Paul focuses in this section on the new life of the believer.  We may perpetuate the connection with the core of the good news today:  He died; we die.  He was buried; we are buried.  He was raised and made alive; we are raised out of the grave and made alive.

Another significant word in the text of the letter to the Colossians is mysterion (mystery), which shows up in 1:27 and 2:2.  The mystery, Paul says, is “Christ in you.”  Significantly, and perhaps paradoxically, in this letter, Paul has God fully dwelling in Christ (1:19, 2:9); Christ living in the believer (1:27), and the believer living in Christ (2:12f, 3:3).

Yesterday, I took Troyte’s Chant No. 1, with the text “By Christ Redeemed, In Christ Restored” and added two stanzas that attempt to highlight a few of these important aspects of the Colossians text.  I share them here in hope that they will benefit the larger Body of Christ.

Meditation on death and life

Here are some thoughts used at communion last Sunday.  Many of these meditations spring directly out of songs–written by Michael Card, James Montgomery, and William J. Irons.

[“Victory in Jesus” sung]

Communion time has come.  It’s a time when we confess together that Jesus “gave His life on Calvary” and that we are “plunged beneath the cleansing flood” of “His redeeming blood.  Communion time has come.

It comes weekly, for most of us gathered here.  The once—a-week aspect is relatively unimportant—we can make a case for it, but scripture doesn’t explicitly say to do this weekly.  The main thing is that Jesus asked those who love and follow Him to remember Him.  “As often as you do it, remember Me.”  And hear Paul:  “Whenever you do this, you’re proclaiming the Lord’s death.”  Those who want to do His will share in communion often.

Communion isn’t something you “take.”  Yes, we “take” the bread and the cup, but communion is something to be shared in, not taken.  This morning, in our hearts, let’s share some ideas around death and apparent defeat.

“Ride On To Die” (M. Card)

Sense the sorrow untold as you look down the road at the clamoring crowd drawing near.
Feel the heat of the day as you look down the way.  Hear the shouts of “Hosanna, the King!”
Midst the shouting so loud and the joy of the crowd, there is One who is riding in silence.
For He knows the ones here will be fleeing in fear when their Shepherd is taken away.
Oh, daughter of Zion, your time’s drawing near.  Don’t forsake Him.  Don’t pass it by.
On the foal of a donkey, as the prophets had said, passing by you, He rides on to die.

It seems to me that God could have stopped with the Death.  The Death—alone and unhyphenated—atones for sin and justifies us before God.  So, for now, let’s pause and ponder deeply the significance of Jesus’ death.

[The remainder of the comments follow the Lord’s Supper, and can precede an offering.]

Again we remember the death in the words of Michael Card:

Soon the thorn-cursed ground will bring forth a crown, and this Jesus will seem to be beaten.
But He’ll conquer alone, both the shroud and the stone, and the prophecies will be completed.

Landon Saunders said, in words that I’ve remembered almost verbatim for years, “Faith is the bird that senses the dawn and sings while it is yet dark.”  When we become disillusioned, disappointed, or dejected, what better place to go for hope than to the empty tomb of our Jesus?  What more appropriate place to be people of faith than at the tomb, knowing the dawn comes?

It’s only knowing something about the apparent finality and terror of death that gives us reason to appreciated the dawn … the hope … of the resurrection.

In the joyous believing that He really did rise—that He actually triumphed over defiant Death—we find hope during times of immersion in stress and troubles.

“Sing with all the sons of glory!”

Sing with all the sons of glory, sing the resurrection song!
Death and sorrow, earth’s dark story, to the former days belong.
All around the clouds are breaking, soon the storms of time shall cease;
In God’s likeness we, awaking, know the everlasting peace.

O what glory, far exceeding all that eye has yet perceived!
Holiest hearts, for ages pleading, never that full joy conceived.
God has promised, Christ prepares it, there on high our welcome waits.
Every humble spirit shares it; Christ has passed th’eternal gates.

Life eternal! heaven rejoices; Jesus lives, who once was dead.
Join we now the deathless voices; child of God, lift up your head!

Patriarchs from the distant ages, saints all longing for their heaven,
Prophets, psalmists, seers, and sages, all await the glory given.

Life eternal! O what wonders crowd on faith; what joy unknown,
When, amidst earth’s closing thunders, saints shall stand before the throne!
O to enter that bright portal, see that glowing firmament;
Know, with Thee, O God immortal, “Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent.”

And again, as Michael Card once sang, “Love crucified arose—the risen One in splendor—Jehovah’s soul defender has won the victory.”  We acknowledge the defeat of sin and death.  And in the light of the resurrection, what can we co but overflow, giving of our various resources to Him to won?

Placing ourselves with Mary & Mary, or with Peter & John, on that Morning:

“Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay; all is solitude and gloom; who hath taken Him away?  Christ is ris’n!  He meets our eyes:  Saviour, teach us so to rise.”

Jesus’ resurrection, conjoined to the hope it brings, is something that truly frees us.  What a Declaration of Independence from tyranny!