to walk worthily of the Lord, pleasing him in all respects

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Lent, day 13: The Song of Christ, part 2: "All"

Greek speakers used the word πᾶς (pas) to mean ‘all’ or ‘every”; it can stand by itself as a substantive, so τἀ πάντα (ta panta) means “all things” or “everything.” I’ve bolded the 8 occurrences of the word in my translation below.

who is the image of the invisible God,
            firstborn of all creation,
for in him were created all things
            in the heavens and upon the earth,
            things visible and things invisible,
            whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities;
            all things through him and to him have been created;
            and he is before all things
            and all things in him hold together,
            and he is the head of the body, the church;

who is the beginning,
            firstborn from among the dead,
            so that he himself might become in all things preeminent,
for in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
            and through him to reconcile all things to him,
            making peace through the blood of his cross, [through him]
            whether things upon the earth or things in the heavens.

The effect of the repetition of this word is obvious; our term makes clear that nothing falls outside of the scope of the subject of this song. In the first part of the song (vv.15-18a), the Son is ‘firstborn of all creation’ and ‘before all things’; and he is responsible for creating everything and for sustaining everything. Emphasizing this comprehensive scope are the references to heaven and earth, things visible and invisible, and the thrones–dominions–rulers–authorities (v. 16). In the second part of the song (vv. 18b-20), the son reconciles and pacifies all things to him through his death on the cross and shows himself superior to all things in his resurrection.

As I’ve written this, my mind has wondered some. My thoughts return occasionally to a picture of a beautiful woman I saw on the internet. I think of my sons sleeping in their rooms. I can hear Shelly’s computer - she’s fallen asleep watching “Pride and Prejudice” (for the 1000th time - why must DVDs last so long?).  I remember my good friend who just received a report of an anomaly in an x-ray and the doctor’s asked her to come back for a second look; and this reminds me of my step-father’s cancer and my mother-in-law’s recovery from cancer and…. For a diversion, I check the latest news. The “super” Tuesday primaries are over but nothing is settled and Peyton Manning, who has played for the Colts longer than my 12 year old son has been alive, is now probably going to be cut tomorrow. There are also stories about grotesque violence in Syria and Nigeria and worries about nuclear Iran and…. And then I return to my blog.

All things. Jesus has to do with all things and nothing that exists exists apart from him. He existed before the whole universe and sustains it. And because all things, for some reason, did not stay on track, he has pacified everything and reconciled everything back to God.

This means that none of the places my mind wonders are outside Jesus’ domain; I cannot conjure up a place that is free from him. No secret sins for me. But also no hiding place for cancer. Despots and their violence cannot escape him. Every hair on my sons’ heads and every moment of life lived, whether lived well or poorly, with my wife are known to him. And what is more, he brings everything back to God. Even though I fail to see this or accept it, whether because I fight to hold on to some cherished sin or self-inflating vanity, or because I have become forlorn, beset by anxieties about responsibilities, loved ones, and even international politics. Yet my failure to perceive that he is Lord of All Things is only that, a failure of perception.

The challenge is to see the grand scope of Colossians 1:15-20 and to realize that nothing whatsoever exists outside the sphere of Christ.

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