Week of Proper 17: Wednesday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  A Satellite View of the Site of Ancient Colossae


Insignificance?  What Insignificance?



Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Colossians 1:1-8 (The Jerusalem Bible):

From Paul, appointed to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy, to the saints in Colossae, our faithful brothers in Christ:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

We have never failed to remember you in our prayers and to give thanks for you to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ever since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love you show towards all the saints because of the hope which is stored up for you in heaven.  It is only recently that you heard this, when it was announced in the message of the truth.  The Good News which has reached you is spreading all over the world and producing the same results as it has among you ever since the day when you head about God’s grace and understood what this really is.  Epaphras, who taught you, is one of our closest fellow workers and a faithful deputy for us as Christ’s servant, and it was he who told us all about your love in the Spirit.

Psalm 34:9-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

9 Fear the LORD, you that are his saints,

for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger,

but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.

11 Come, children, and listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12 Who among you loves life

and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?

13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking

and your lips from lying words.

14 Turn from evil and do good;

seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous,

and his ears are open to their cry.

16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,

to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears them

and delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted

will save those whose spirits are crushed.

19 Many are the troubles of the righteous,

but the LORD will deliver him out of them all.

20 He will keep all his bones;

not one of them shall be broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked,

and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

22 The LORD ransoms the life of his servants,

and none will be punished who trust in him.

Luke 4:38-44 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon’s house.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her.  Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her.  And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.

At sunset  all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them.  Devils too came out of many people, howling,

You are the Son of God.

But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place.  The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered,

I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.

And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.


The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.


The message of Jesus was beginning to spread.  This process began early in his ministry and found reception outside his hometown, Nazareth.  The message spread throughout the Galilee and Judea.  What was the message?  It was the word concerning God and spiritual liberation.  This message also had a socio-economic-political element, which explains why a Roman Procurator ordered our Lord’s execution and Roman soldiers carried it out.

It is relatively easy to execute a person, but much more difficult to kill an idea.  This is especially true when considering the work of the Apostle Paul, who preached Christ crucified and resurrected.  (Aside:  Let us not focus so much on the crucifixion that we give short shrift to the resurrection.  Without the resurrection we have dead Jesus and no atonement.)

And Paul was not alone.  One Epaphras, a faithful Christian, had founded the Gentile congregation in Colossae, located in the valley of the Lycus River in western Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey.  Colossae, an insignificant town, had once been an important city in that region.  But the church there was important, for from it sprang congregations in neighboring towns and cities.  Paul had never been to Colossae.  Indeed, he wrote the Letter to the Colossians from prison, probably in Rome, perhaps no later than 60 C.E. He knew of the Colossian church because Epaphras had informed him in person.

This day’s reading from Colossians is part of the friendly greeting.  Paul got down to business very quickly.  But let us not get ahead of the content.  The message was spreading, and no imperial efforts had prevented this.

On the surface Jesus looked like an insignificant person.  But he was quite the opposite, obviously.  And Colossae was a town whose glory days were long past, but from that place the word concerning Jesus spread throughout one region of Asia Minor.  Do you think yourself insignificant?  You are not.  Do you live in a proverbial armpit or the middle of nowhere?  Your location is still a vital outpost in the Kingdom of God.  What will you do for God where you are?  And how far will the impact of your work spread?



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