Colossians 1:12-18
12 Brethren, give thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son:
14 In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him:
17 And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
18 And He is the head of the Body, the Church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! This is an incredibly well placed Epistle reading, just two weeks before we celebrate the Birth of our Saviour. St. Paul writing about Who Christ is, and what He’s done in His Person for the human race, and why. Christianity is only about Christ—everything in the life of a Christian should revolve around the person of Jesus Christ. And having a proper understanding about Him is a great assistance in our daily struggle to draw nearer to Him. As I read over the Epistle reading for this week, St. Paul’s words kept bringing to my mind words of the prokeimenon from Agape Vespers Pascha afternoon—“Who is so great a God as our God; our God is the God who dost wonders.” The history of the creation, from the moment history was called into being from non-being until now, is a history of the wonders of God. And St. Paul reminds us of this history this morning, and he puts all of creation into the hands of Christ. Christ is the image of the invisible God. The icons of Christ are rightly called icons of the Son of God. The Word made flesh, dwelling among us, and we have seen Him, and His image has been remembered and venerated for 2,000 years. Christ is the icon of the Father, and we are created as icons of Christ. And St. Paul writes that by Christ all things were created, both in heaven and on earth, all things were created by Him, and for Him. We are created by Christ, for Christ, and in the image of Christ. And the Father’s clarify this by telling us that we’re created in the image of the incarnate Christ. Christ is the first man, and Adam was created in His image. Christ is before all things, and by Him all things consist. He gives to all things their being. The Fathers tell us that the greatest and the smallest things are upheld by the hand of Christ—it takes His constant energy and participation for the creation to continue to exist. And this Christ, this icon of the Father, the prototype of humanity, the creator of all that is, this Christ became man. And through His blood, St. Paul says, we have redemption and forgiveness of sins. The magnitude of this revelation in indescribable. In order to deliver us from the power of darkness, sin and death, the Creator joined Himself to the creature. And we hear this said all the time in the Church…but hearing St. Paul lay out exactly Who it is that became man for our salvation, hearing this description of Who our Christ is, makes the sacrifice He made in His love for mankind all the more incredible. And what He offers us—to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Or as St. Peter puts it, “to be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). When we contemplate the life that Christ has offered us, the mystery of God’s providence is truly revealed. We are called to be the bearers of this God in our flesh—to be “Theotokos” the Fathers even say—to carry Christ in our bodies, to live in and with and through Him. And to continually reveal Him to the world. This God, Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, this God that is Christ—His utmost desire is for our bodies and souls to become His living temple. For Him to deify our flesh and souls and our entire person, and through us to reveal Himself to the world. We see this very clearly in the lives of the Saints. This quote about the Saints is from a book by Archimandrite Vasileios of Mt. Athos. I met him while I was there, we stayed in the monastery where he’s abbot. And as we hear him tell about the transformation that takes place in the Saints, remember that this is what we’re all called to, what we’re all offered in Christ.

“The Orthodox saint has worth, not on account of his virtues, but because He is Christ Himself ‘in another form.’ You come to know Christ Himself in the person of the Saint because ‘God and His Saints have the same glory and splendor’, according to St. Gregory Palamas…When we see a saint, we do not simply receive something through the thoughts he expresses or whatever else he may give us…He is wholly set on fire with the love of God, and it is because of this that he gives us something different, which never ceases or passes away. Through the saint we have the possibility of understanding what God is, and what we ourselves are.“ (The Saint: Archetype of Orthodoxy, Alexander Press, 1999, pp. 20, 24)

This is the life that we’re called to, this is the fullness of life that we have at our fingertips, revealed in Christ’s Holy Church to us, and by the grace of God, through us to the whole world. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!