"The serenity prayer in spanish on the mexican side of the border......ironic and poetic." by Natashalatrasha is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11 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 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enable you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossae, during the first century, was a small Phrygian settlement in what is now southern Turkey. During the middle decades, news of the early Christ movement reached the town, and a small house church formed and grew. A relationship developed with this small community and the Apostle Paul and his followers. Out of this relationship, we have this rich letter to the Colossians, written around 90CE.
Unlike many of the other letters in the Christian Scriptures, the purpose of this writing was not corrective. Instead, Colossians was written to encourage the recipients during a confusing time. Some of this encouragement comes in the form of teaching through early hymns. Verses 12-14 in today’s readings are part of one of the earliest recorded Christian hymns.
Repeatedly in the letter, the Apostle Paul prays that the Colossians be strengthened by God presence among them so that they may “endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to God.”
Today we do well to pray for strength too, so that we may “endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to God.” Spiritual strength is something like our ability to deal, handle, cope, confront, accept, and overcome confusing times with grace and faithfulness. With news that this new normal may last longer than a few weeks, the spiritual practices of patience and gratitude will undoubtedly be tested.
I leave you with a beloved prayer written by a prominent 20th-century theologian and UCC pastor, Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.