6As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6)
The last weeks have been heart wrenching—Orlando, Baton Rouge, Minnesota, France, Turkey, Dallas, Baton Rouge (again!). The world seems to be swirling out of control, fueled by fears and predictions that may or may not come to be. What do you do when your world crumbles around you? You hang on for dear life. That’s what the passage says. We have to stay rooted in faith. Now rooted doesn’t mean dig in your heels and refuse to change, refuse to move from where you are. (That would be root rot!) I don’t think that it means returning to the “good old days” (that weren’t really “good” for everyone!) or returning to some sort of imaginary former glory or greatness that you thought you had. Rooted means that you find what sustains you and cling to it. And then, without ever letting go, you grow, stretching yourself beyond where you thought you could go, reaching out to places that you thought you would never see, turning and twisting through the sands and the mud and around the rocks that may have been kicked into your pathway. That is what strengthens us; that is what give us a foundation on which to rely; that is what gives us new life.
If you read the whole lectionary passage from Colossians, it includes words of encouragement probably to new converts who were being tossed and turned by those that were trying to tell them what it meant to have faith, which rules to follow, what things (or people) to avoid. But the writer of this epistle will have none of that. It’s not about all that. It’s about love. It’s about coming together as one Body, the way that God made us to be. It’s about unity. It’s about peace. It’s about being rooted in the One who redeems our best and our worst, the One who will bring all this together if we will only reach beyond where we are.
So, as the world spins beyond our comfort level, beyond our control, let us resist the tendency to pull ourselves into ourselves. Let us resist shutting ourselves off from the rest of the world. Let us resist building walls to protect ourselves or doors to lock ourselves away. Let us instead be rooted in our God who sustains us. And then let us follow God to new life—all of us, together. Rooted, let us become instruments of change rather than paralysis, instruments of peace rather than fighting back, instruments of God rather than our fears and our anger. Stay rooted and God will show you the way.