All things (Colossians 1.15-20)
We’re going a bit philosophical today. Brace yourselves. There is a school of religion which sees everything in mystical terms. Humans are shot through with holy dust and so are trees and animals and the wind. All things are sacred. We sort of get the idea when we listen into Native Americans honouring the animals they are about to kill or trees they are cutting down and the Jain religion teaches its adherents (mainly in India) to avoid walking on any insects. And, if we know anything at the Greek and Roman gods, their framework is Pantheistic—there is a god for every thing—not just animals and plants but poetry and landscape.
We might find all this a bit odd. But only a bit. Our instinct is to recognise that creation is amazing and, for us, the logical conclusion is not that there is a god for everything (pantheism), but that God is in everything (panentheism). SO, not a tree god but that God is somehow part of, embedded in, the tree.
Now have a go at reading our first text today from Colossians. Here, the author does not go down the line of a god for everything or that God is in each item. The author, soaked in the Genesis tradition, sees everything as the result of God’s creative action. Pushing this idea further, he comes up with the new idea that all things exist because of Christ. Which means that the things we see and experience, the things that shape our world (visible and invisible as he helpfully reminds us) exist, not as part of God, nor with God as part of them, but as evidence of the existence of God.
What is God like? He is like Christ. And what is Christ-like? You catch a glimpse when you see a bird being truly itself, a sunset calming the soul, rain refreshing the parched earth. These are not Christ. He is not in them. They are not to be worshipped. But they point to the one who created them. In fact, the text reminds us that “all things” point beyond themselves to their creator. When you look out of the window today, see beyond the clouds, the rain, the snow to Christ who made all things.