Around 60 CE, as the church began to grow and share the gospel, Paul and Timothy, while imprisoned in Rome, wrote to the community of Colossae. The letter became so significant it was included in the writings that became a library of spiritual writings for the Christian community. Eventually, the books, letters, poems, songs, dreams and stories were compiled into a single printed book – the Bible.
In this letter, after greetings, giving thanks, offering words of gratitude and then assuring the community of their prayers, Paul and Timothy wrote a succinct paragraph, full of depth, wonder, wisdom and insights. They wrote:
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.
(Letter to the Colossians 1:15-20)
This extraordinarily rich passage will guide our thinking this Season of Creation. We will explore the concept of the Cosmic Christ – through whom and for whom all things were created. We will explore what it means that Christ is the image of the invisible God and how things visible and invisible declare the presence of God. We will share the wonder of the heavens and the earth, the revelatory nature of the cosmos, and the gift it is that this God, who is beyond us, intimately loves and cares for each of us. We will reflect on God’s work of reconciling all of creation, the intertwining, interdependence of all things.
These few verses remind us of the importance of all of creation to God, resisting anthropocentric views that elevate humans above creation to the detriment of all. They challenge us to understand the mystery and immensity of the Cosmic Christ while also holding to an intimate relationship with the one who knows us most deeply. The wisdom from 2000 years ago speaks directly into the crises of our day, such as environmental degradation and climate change, calling us to understand our own future to be inextricably connected with the future of all of creation. It disallows any division between a utopian heaven and a squalid earth, holding the two together in the mystery, love and work of Christ. These verses challenge our understanding of Christ as Cosmic Christ, the incarnate Christ (the person of Jesus), the Church as the Body of Christ and the Body of Christ as present in the sacrament of communion.
This Season invites us to question the fullness of our own understanding of Christ, the place of creation as the beloved work of God and our own responsibility in responding to the detriment of the environment. It encourages us to look upon the work of God with awe and wonder; to find ourselves made small in the shadow of its grandeur and ourselves made significant through God’s love for us and our capacity to work with God to shape the future. With gratitude for the gift of life in all its fullness, let us enter this Season of Creation.