“In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. … 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, 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.” – Colossians 1:3-10
This Sunday in church, we’ll hear this beautiful opening to the Letter to the Colossians. I’d encourage us all to spend some time with the first few chapters of this wonderful letter in the next few weeks.
The author gives us such beautiful encouragement about how prayer, thanksgiving, and good works are all connected together in a symbiotic and organic relationship. The author of Colossians thanks God in prayer for those who are receiving this letter and mentions how he’s heard of their faith in Jesus and their love for one another, and the hope they have in God’s restoration of all things. It’s another version of the 1 Corinthians 13 “faith, hope, and love”—these three most important things that remain when everything else fades away.
It’s growing season here in the Good News Garden and in many of your own home gardens, and so we know how what we plant, water, and nourish produces flowers and fruit (Lord willing, if the bugs don’t get it…). Yet I’m realizing that sometimes we don’t know what we plant and water—and end up with pumpkins in the compost bin or cucumbers in a sidewalk from seeds that fell while we walked.
In the compost bin at the Good News Garden, there’s some squash, or cucumber, or pumpkin vine creeping out and I’m trying to train it up the side so we can see what fruit might come by happy accident! We may have tried to plant in specific places, but God gave the water and the growth! I wonder if we might take that same attitude in other areas of our life besides the garden to see where God’s fruit might be growing.
In the Christian life, we see that faith, hope, and love produce good fruit in good works. We’ll see that play out practically this Sunday in our Gospel passage that’s usually called The Parable of the Good Samaritan but might better be called, The Good Question or The Good Neighbor.
In our Colossians reading above, we are reminded that the good news of Jesus not only brings about fruit in the good works of individual humans and their small community churches, but the good news of Jesus bears fruit in the whole world—or more accurately, the entire created order or cosmos! It’s a staggering thought and one that is hard for us sometimes to comprehend, when we see the sadness and brokenness of the world around us. Yet in God’s time, all things are being made new and restored. It’s a reality we affirm by faith and through the grace of God working in our lives and in the life of the world. Next week we’ll hear from the rest of Colossians 1 about how “all things hold together” in Christ.
The little seeds we plant bear fruit by God’s grace. So let us join with our Colossians siblings with thanksgiving for the truth of God’s continual work in our lives to bring about the fruit—or zucchini, or cucumbers, or pumpkins—of faith, hope, and love.
The Rev. Emily Zimbrick-Rogers