This semester in our women's Bible study we worked through the book of Colossians using Kathleen Nielson's study. It's been a fantastic, inductive, thoroughly Bible-only study. She's an English professor--of course she knows how to read and ask good questions!
What a true joy to spend 9 weeks on this letter, paragraph by paragraph--at times, sentence by sentence. For one week's study, we covered only four verses. I really concentrated on specific words and images that Paul uses and it was worshipful!
My favorite week was our study on Col. 1:15-23 where we looked at the incarnation, resurrection, and reconciliation through Christ. It was a great week of study and then when we met to discuss we had a visual activity that solidified the whole week. On one side of the room, black paper was hung on the wall with the word "Before." On the other side, yellow paper and "After." Our tables were given phrases that belonged on one side or another--words like "enemies," "alienated," "wicked," "alive," "holy," "blameless." We put the words on the appropriate sides of the room and then had to come up with another phrase for each. Each table wrote something different for the before and the after. Then we each had a small paper bookmark with black on one side and yellow on another. Individually, we chose a "before" word and an "after" word that resonated with us. I have "enemy of God" and "peace with God" on mine. How often do I consider that I once was an enemy of God, fighting for opposing sides and under an opposing authority, deserving of wrath, and without peace?
The focus on Christ is my "take away" lesson from this: to be reminded again and again of the superiority of Christ to anything else and the amazing work he did on my behalf and the way he has modeled obedience and submission to the Father.
These past few weeks, the soundtrack for our house has reflected this. We got Andrew Peterson's new CD, Resurrection Letters, Vol. 2, which focuses on how our lives are different after that Sunday because the power of the resurrection is in us. Amazing CD (well, the first 3/4ths, I don't like the last 2-3 songs as much, the first 7-8 are fantastic!) Then we pulled out Behold the Lamb of God, a "Christmas" CD because R was reading through the Passover story. That's all about the great story of redemption from the beginning and the incarnation of Christ. And, because I had it rattling in my head, Rich Mullins and the Ragamuffins' The Jesus Record. And while I'm waiting for R to ask me what a whore is ("the whores all seem to love him") and an ass ("he rode an ass's foal), there is nothing sweeter than hearing that tiny, high-pitched voice singing, "Surely God is with us," "My Deliverer is coming," and "That where I am, there you may also be."
I've had a wonderful group of women in my small group. The burdens are tremendous within this group, but the level of vulnerability and honesty has only been matched by their encouragement and wisdom. At times, it's been kinda heavy and there have been many tragedies and hurts within the body these past few weeks. I feel totally ill equipped to sit there but awed at the stories I hear and the witness these women have. Feasting on the Word together is such a blessing.