So, I took one for the team this week.
I was so excited about Paul’s high prayer in Colossians coming up in the lectionary this week… that I got an idea. It’s such a deep, rich, velvety prayer… that it reminds me in some ways of a truly great piece of chocolate.
And, while having this idea, I just so happened to be by a Godiva Chocolatier.
(You see where I’m going with this?)
So, I went in and bought a white-chocolate covered strawberry. I wanted to start munching on it right there and then, but then I found a seat, pulled out the Colossians text, and began my slow intentional way through that little piece of heaven. (I’m talking about the strawberry. Of course.)
AHHHHhhhhh. Yes. They are indeed one and the same.
I’m not sure the little strawberry was worth the almost 8$ I paid for it (!!!!) (It was more expensive than my entire lunch.) (Though, since it was for sermon prep maybe I can expense it? Or at least claim a tax deduction for business purposes?…)
But, oh yes, it was good.
Paul’s prayer at the beginning of the Letter to the Colossians isn’t like a Godiva chocolate-dipped strawberry. It’s like swimming in a pool of them.
“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Now, that’s a prayer.
And, it’s a prayer that makes me wonder if we haven’t lost some of the mystical dialogic nature of prayer over these past 2000 years. And, I’m not talking about liturgical prayer (though some of what is coming out these days masquerading as liturgical prayer does have some serious questions hanging over it.)
But, as far as we can tell Paul isn’t quoting from some ancient liturgical text here. He’s just praying off the top of his head here.
I’m one of those who thinks that Paul does quote liturgical texts from time to time, like the Christ Hymn in the second chapter of Philippians. I think that was Paul clearly using a familiar hymn from the Early Church.
But here, he’s just praying. And, I’m not just talking about the language here – I’m talking content too. Paul is praying for strength, and patience, and joy. He recognizes Jesus as the one who is the source of redemption and the one who saves us from darkness.
And, he’s praying, not for himself, but for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae.
This text is a long shot from the standard wee-jus prayer that’s drawn out over the potluck supper like a thick train of molasses.
Paul didn’t just blurt this out – he was formed in this kind of prayer. Maybe he was taught to pray like this. Maybe he taught himself. I like to think the Holy Spirit taught him over years and years of deep prayer.
Prayer isn’t meant to impress anyone. But, it does speak of who we’re praying to. On this Sunday when we’re remembering the Reign of Christ our Great King and High Priest… let’s try and summon it up within ourselves, and our congregations, the desire to address our Lord as the one who drives out the darkness and who grants us inheritance with the saints in light.
If you forget how to do that… find a Godiva’s.
‘Expense it’ if you have to.