Rooted and Risen – Colossians 2:6-19
I have a couple different guilty pleasure tv shows that I like to watch. Ice Road Truckers about driving on a literal frozen highway that is only accessible certain times of the year. A show on the weather channel about a dangerous highway in British Columbia and the big rig towing and wrecker companies that haul semis and larger machinery off the highway whey they get stuck. And home improvement shows. I love how home improvement shows can see the potential behind the surface and are committed to bringing their vision of restoration and renewal to life. My favorite part, my favorite part, is flooring. Specifically, this scenario. The resident decides they don’t want the carpeting that’s there and would rather have a nice high quality laminate or vinyl. So, they start pulling up the carpet, only to find tile underneath the carpet. And as they start chipping away at the tile they find another layer of something. The tile is gone and they are pulling whatever layer is underneath when you see the hosts faces light up with joy. My heart soars and the cohosts look at each other and say the three most magical words, three words that I have been waiting for: original hardwood floors. And 20 minutes later, through the magic of television, you see a living room with with a shiplap accent wall and beautifully restored hardwood floors. And sometimes I think we, can be like those original hardwood floors. Beautiful and wonderfully made with depth and richness. But covered up over the years, for various reasons in various ways, buried and in need of resurrection and restoration.
In our passage today, the author of the letter to the Colossians uses the idea of stripping away, pulling back and the analogy of death and resurrection. And the analogy is not something new or novel to this letter. Paul uses it in almost all of his letters at least once or twice and, there’s a reason we make a big deal about Easter. Romans 6 – just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Ephesians 2 “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”
The idea of stripping way, the analogy of death and resurrection, is this:
You are created in God’s image, filled with God’s breath, and imbued with gifts and talents to make a difference in the world. We are called to work with God to help bring about a world defined by love, care, and connection. We were made to have an abundant fulfilling life with peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, and love. But living that full life is not always easy. Sometimes it first involves stripping away things, unhealthy things, toxic things, damaging things, like layers and layers and layers of flooring. Sometimes, living the abundant life God wants for us means releasing what we currently have. Current habits, patterns, ways of interacting with people, current coping mechanisms, how we talk to ourselves, and even some relationships need to fall away in order for our true, best, and beloved selves to breathe and thrive. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, like Christ rising from death itself, we go through our own cycles of death and resurrection here on earth.
Think about the movie Moana. Fish are disappearing, land is desiccating. To save her people and her island, the Moana seeks to return Te Fiti’s heart. Te Fiti is the green vibrant goddess of creation whose heart was stolen thousands of years ago. But, of course, there is a big villain in the way, Te Ka, a violent all consuming lava monster. Moana is battling Te Ka when suddenly she realizes that Te Ka isn’t a monster or a demon or a villain. Te Fiti, life giving goddess of creation, had turned into Te Ka, when her heart was stolen. For a thousand years, she violently expressed her pain and loss and darkness spread from her bitterness and rage. And when Moana returned her heart, Te Fiti came back to herself, her true self.
There are all sorts of reasons we stop recognizing ourselves and find ourselves covered in layers.
We feel pressure to conform, to fit in and be like other people, societal norms tell us we do not belong, so we survive by covering up the amazing person God created us to be.
We experience the judgement of others, take it to heart, and begin to change even more.
We feel ruled by unhealthy patterns, habits, and actions.
Then at some point, we look in the mirror and see someone we don’t recognize, an angry lava monster instead of a vibrant, joy filled, goddess. Olive green shag carpet instead of deep, rich, warm, hardwood.
Thankfully, our stories do not end there.
Through work, and time, and care, layers are stripped off and hardwood floors are restored.
Moana’s persistence, dedication, and love offered Te Fiti resurrection.
And that is what God does for us.
Hear the good news: Resurrection from rage, shame, judgement, fear, loneliness, and pressure, resurrection here and now is possible.
Rooting ourselves in God’s grace, strength, and care, grounding ourselves in the belief that we are loved and forgiven, knowing that the things we do and the things done to us do not define us, we can rediscover our inherent worth and our truest and best selves. God is with us, giving us the courage to be vulnerable, to ask for help, to share our struggles. God is with us, giving us the strength to pick up the phone, or send a text message, or find a counselor. We can experience restoration and renewal in big ways and in small ways.
Hear the good news: You are a beautiful hardwood floor worth restoring. You deserve to be able to bloom and grow. May we root ourselves in love and discover the resurrection God wants for us today.
Rev. Stefanie Hayes