L: A reading from Paul's letter to the Colossians: Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow-servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts; he is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.
Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him. And Jesus who is called Justus greets you. These are the only ones of the circumcision among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills. For I testify for him that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, ‘See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.’
L: The word of the....
(1 jumps up and raised hand in interruption)
L: Excuse me, this is church not class, you can't just jump up with your hand raised and interrupt!
1: but I have a question.
L: (exasperated) Fine what is your question?
1: (with air of victory) so what?
1: so what? Why did you read that, what does that have to do with us?
L: It's the Word of the....
(1 interrupts again)
1: Don't say that! If you say that everyone will say thanks be to God and then we'll move on in the service and I'll never understand why we read the passage.
L: Fine explain your question.
1: What does this passage have to do with us? I certainly dont have any friends named Tick-us, or Once-in-moose, or Epras...I have a friend named Mark but he's not the cousin of Barnabas, and what about Arch-supports....
L:(interrupting) Well despite the criminal slaughter of the names, you're kind of right. This passage seems very focused on a certain people at a certain time. So what does this have to do with us.....lets read the verse afterwards and see if it sheds some light....
L: Verse 18 of Colosians 4: “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
1: um you can continue anytime now....
L: The Word...
1: NO!!! Stop doing that! And you haven't even finished the reading!
L: That's how it ends.
1: What? It doesn't explain the verses before it? Nor carry a message? Man this ending stinks! Who does this guy think he is!
L: Um Paul, the author of a good chunk of the New Testament.
1: (sarcastic) Oh Good clearly then it makes sense then since its Paul
L: Well then, the Word of the....
1: Stop that!
L: (exasperated) When will you let me finish?
1: When you explain it to me! Paul just keeps on talking about these hard to pronounce names and how they're faithful ministers, encourager's, servants, and a comfort to him. What does that have to do with us?
L: (distracted and murmuring) “since we are surround by such a great cloud of witnesses...”
L: Oh I was just thinking of a different verse in the New Testament....(seeing despair in 1's face)
one not written by Paul. Hebrews 12 actually.
1: Hebrews? That explains the weird names!
L: Actually those names are Greek, and I'm talking about the book, not the culture or language.
1: Ok so what about this cloud? Are we talking cirrus or cumulus?
1: Not a met major I guess. Well cirrus and cumulus are two classifications of clouds....
L: (interrupting) THE WORD....
1: Ach! Stop that! You still haven't answered my question!
L: Well if you'd stop getting distracted.
1: I am not getting...oh look a pond
L and 1 walk over to the Baptismal Font
L: This is the baptismal font, not a pond....and thinking about it I think this can help answer your questions about the reading.
1: Um, I dont think it can talk
L: No no no....what I mean is this: In the waters of Baptism we are initiated into the body of Christ, into the great cloud of witnesses....(seeing 1 about to interrupt) and no I dont know whether its a cirrus or cumulus....but continuing on. Along with the initiation into the body of Christ grace is mediated to us through the water and the word....
1: AHH you just tried to trick me and say the phrase which cant be said until I understand!
L: No I didn't stop interrupting. I am trying to help you. When God's grace is mediated to us we are changed by it, we are given new freedom to turn from our sinful and selfish self, drown it in the waters of baptism and rise a new with Christ. And given the death of Self in the waters of baptism we are freed to love one another, to encourage, support, and care for others.
1: Like the people in the reading with the weird Hebrew names.
L: Right but the names are Greek, not Hebrew.
1: So this section of Paul's letter, which at first seems unimportant to us, is actually like a case study in the Christian life?
L: Right, and Paul ends saying grace be with you, as an invocation of the grace which inspired them to service.
1: Well I guess it makes sense now....
L: Finally! The Word of the....
L: what I thought you understood?
1: I did but I just thought of something!
L: Oh no not again....
1: Grace be with you!
L: The Word of the Lord