We live in a world of powers and empires, of brands, logos and globalized world order. St Paul’s letter to the Colossians engages with the realities of empire, its principalities and powers, and reveals Christ above and beyond it all, yet also deep within us.
There’s a wonderful description of how the Church uses Scripture corporately for this purpose in a great, creative commentary on Colossians I have been reading recently:
In order to have vision we must have memory. Indeed forgetfulness or amnesia is precisely what strips us of vision — without the past there can be no future. So our contemporary improvisation must be informed and directed by both a profound indwelling of the biblical vision of life and a discerning attentiveness to the postbiblical scenes that have already been acted out in the history of the church.
There is a certain dynamic in this approach to Biblical authority that could be described as a dance between innovation and consistency. Our serious reading of Scripture must be characterized by fidelity to the thrust of the narrative and thus provide our life with a stability and consistency, a rootedness. At the same time, however, the Bible as an unfinished drama gives us freedom for historical innovation and thus a creative and imaginative flexibility in our historical responses. It is only by maintaining the essential relationship between stability and flexibility that we “may avoid the hazards” of both a rigid fossilization of our faith and “a deeper relativizing that gives up everything for a moment of contemporary relevance.”
As we read through the Biblical Story, it is clear that the Israelites themselves retold their stories with such fidelity and innovation. As the ancient Israelites encountered new situations, they remembered and interpreted their traditions in such a way that they engaged contemporary problems and concerns. Indeed without such dynamic interpretation, the texts and traditions contained within them were seen to be incomplete...
Stability and flexibility, fidelity and creativity, consistency and innovation — these are key if a narrative text is to have any current authority in our lives.Brian Walsh & Sylvia Keesmaat
Colossians remixed — Subverting the Empire