“To bring all things together in Christ”

Monday, January 14, 2013 — Week of 1 Epiphany (Year One)

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 942)

Psalms 1, 2, 3 (morning) // 4, 7 (evening)

Isaiah 40:12-23

Ephesians 1:1-14

Mark 1:1-13

God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan… This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth. Ephesians 1:4-5, 10, CEB)

There is something about the sense of God’s calling and blessing that seems so sure and right that we intuitively respond, “This is what God must have intended for me. This must have been God’s purpose for me from before I was born.” When we experience the profound, loving presence of the divine, we seem to know — God has loved me forever and will love me forever. This must have been God’s design and purpose from the beginning.

The epistle to the Ephesians gives utterance to that experience, and sees it in two stages. Initially, God calls the church to be “the first to hope in Christ.” (vs.12) The church is the first-fruits of God’s intended harvest. The church hears “the word of truth in Christ, which is the good news of your salvation.” (vs. 13) Then we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” as “the down payment on our inheritance… as God’s own people.” (vs. 13, 14)

From the beginning, God intended to call a community to respond to the good news of Christ, and the church lives into that promise. “We have received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design.” (vs. 11)

But God doesn’t stop there. God intends “to bring all things together in Christ.” (vs. 10) The Greek actually reads: “to bring under one head all things in Christ.”

The phrase “in Christ” is profoundly significant in the New Testament. The scripture insists that everything in heaven and earth is destined to be united “in Christ.” The whole of created reality is to be raised up and to be included “in Christ.” Ephesians sees this in history as a two-step process — first the church, then the whole cosmos. We in the church have experienced God’s love and election, and that experience is so absolute that we sense that it was God’s intention and purpose from the beginning. Then we recognize that the experience is not just for us, but is intended for all of the created order, for every human being and for all that God has made. God will triumph, and God’s triumph will be complete.

Paul says it another way in his great resurrection chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. “In the same way that everyone dies in Adam, so also everyone will be given life in Christ.” (vs. 22)

When we grasp the New Testament’s vision that the whole cosmos will be united “in Christ,” it helps make a fuller sense of some of the statements of that some Christians use wrongly to consign other human beings to hell. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6) cannot mean that only those who recite a particular formula of belief will be saved. Christ gives light to the whole world and to every creature. “Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Yes! God reveals Jesus of Nazareth as the name who saves all humanity.

This is what God planned for the climax of all times (or for the fullness of times): to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth.

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