In this Eastertide, we have cleared away the dross of the winter, renew our gardens with mulch and feed the flowers that are blooming there. As Paul begins his letter to the Colossians, writing still from his imprisonment in Rome, he too is writing about new growth. This new growth is our inner growth, a growth that he hears is spreading all over the world. In spite of his circumstances he is able to dispatch messages of love and applaud his fellow-believers at Colossae. He calls them ‘saints’. By the very nature of their faith he embraces them in the company of the sanctified, the holy, those who by the nature of their lives in Christ have become sacred human persons. They are blessed already in their very ordinary earthly lives, with the future hope and current blessings of the kingdom. For Paul it is the kingdom of the heart, the kingdom of the Son God loves. Pretty great company to be in.
You can sense Paul’s own happiness and rejoicing in these opening lines because news has reached him of the love the Spirit has awakened in you. It is this Spirit of love that is the mark of the sacred reality they live now through their faith in Christ. So the good news is spreading like a bountiful garden throughout the world, and enabling a sacred people to come to understand God’s grace, his life within them and what this really is, what this really means in their lives. Again Paul harkens back to the idea of knowledge he spoke of Ephesians, the knowledge of God that comes from being planted and rooted in the love of Christ. It is not only knowledge of God, but most especially the fullness of him as the sacred reality that feeds and fuels our lives, enriches it and makes all things possible. To bear all things joyfully.
And Paul in prison is doing just that. Because even though his physical freedom is restricted the news he receives and his ability to continue to dialogue with the people through his ‘brethren’, his fellow apostles, is the source of joy to him and thanksgiving. The message of the true gospel has borne fruit, which is the love that the people of Colossae have for all their fellow saints, in other words, each other. Like spring flowers this love spreads across the field of faith, and has brought light out of the darkness. Freed from sin, freed to love. It is this light as well that shines on their new growth providing enlightenment of a knowledge that Paul does not define but knows himself to be grace, an experience that often escapes words, a lived reality, a knowledge that is lived in the reality of their lives each day, and like a flower reaching toward the morning light, draws us irresistibly to the love of Christ Jesus.
It was from a garden that we were put out upon this path and it is in a garden that Jesus came back to life, to us, to make his love the ever renewing spring time of the kingdom of love, where each day we are called to blossom in that Love.