There is a subtle and mysterious power that begins to permeate the experience of someone who is becoming acquainted with the largeness of the soul – not just “the soul” as some abstractly beautiful idea, but with the largeness of his or her own inmost self. When Walt Whitman wrote the phrase “I am large, I contain multitudes” in his epic Song of Myself, he was perhaps following his own ecstatic muse toward a version of the truth we find in the letter to the Colossians. This letter, I confess, is one of the epistles I cherish most. When I read it, the most interior, intimate, and invisible part of myself feels so palpably enlarged – and empowered. Here is a truly expansive vision of Christian identity, perhaps best summarized in the single, breath-taking phrase from its third chapter: “There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.” All, everything, whole, full, fullness – these are the characteristic words of the Letter to the Colossians, words by which the reader becomes something more, someone larger than life, a person filled with Life beyond his or her own.
This Christ whose heart of love is now the center and binding agent of the whole cosmos is the one in whom the soul discovers the true measure of its wingspan. For the author of Colossians – probably not Paul, but almost certainly a disciple of Paul’s spirituality – there is a direct relationship between the expansiveness we come to know by participation in this cosmic Christ and the empowerment of the Christian. The follower of Christ knows the power of God in Christ, a power that liberates in a world filled with powers that enslave, abuse, diminish and make small.
Here is the sermon I preached this morning. I realized that most of those attending this morning’s Eucharist were members of the SSJE, so I altered the first sentence for clarification. I also realized as I was writing the sermon that I could not include reference to all of the places that we visited and keep within the time limit that we have established for the length of our weekday sermons. Some of the place that we visited were a short visit to Lindisfarne, our retreat on Iona at Bishop’s House (where members of the English SSJE had live for about 10 years over 100 years ago), the visit we made to Walsingham differed sufficiently from the other places that it did not fit in well with the general theme I adopted, and the visit to Little Gidding, while significant, was too short. We also had an overnight stay in Glasgow so that those members of SSJE who wanted to return to America sooner, or wanted to see other places. Perhaps other members of SSJE can include those places in other ways. – David Allen, SSJE
[Col. 1:9-14 / Lk. 5:1-11]
As you who are not members of the S.S.J.E. may have heard, since we returned from our Pilgrimage to Great Britain, we had a wonderful time. In each of the places we visited we shared in what Paul termed, “the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (Col. 1:12) In all of those places we were given warm hospitality. In some places the tour guides gave us a very good glimpse of the heritage of some of the early saints of those regions. In the places we visited we could taste something of the holiness of those who had gone before us.