Lectionary 18 C

Just a few citations this week, but some fun topics: the threefold mode of Christ's body, the necessity of warning Christians against disobedience, the image of God and sin, and the separation of powers.

Colossians 3:1-11

Verse 4 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 7: Holy Supper (SD 7.99) within an extended section quoting from Luther's Confession concerning Christ's Supper as he expounds on the "threefold mode" of Christ's body. The first mode, wherein this verse is quoted, is "the circumscribed corporeal mode of presence, as when he [Jesus] walked bodily on earth, when he occupied and yielded space according to his size" (SD 7.99). It is this mode that we will see again at the end of time--Jesus bodily walking around the planet in a particular place at a particular time.

Verse 6 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 4: Good Works (SD 4.32) along with several other quotes from the epistles warning Christians that God's gift of salvation does not release us from living faithful lives. Salvation can be lost. Disobedience is possible. Particularly when those who would accept the label of Christian "follow evil lusts without any fear and shame, resist the Holy Spirit, and intentionally proceed to sin against their consciences" (SD 4.31).

Verse 10 is called out by Melanchthon and expanded by an editorial insert in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 2: Original Sin (AP 2.20) along with a call out to Ephesians 5:19 to show that Paul's understanding of "the image of God is the knowledge of God, righteousness, and truth" (AP 2.20). Melanchthon is making a connection here between the presence of sin and ignorance of God, thus also comes unrighteousness and falsehood. Only God's grace, Melanchthon argues, can change this.

Luke 12:13-21

Verse 14 is quoted in The Augsburg Confession, Article 28: Bishops/The Church's Power (AC 28.15) along with several other quotes from the New Testament that point to separation of powers--that's separation of spiritual and secular power and authority in our world, not the constitutional separation of the executive, legislative, and judicial powers in our country.


I recognize the arcane nature of some of these citations, especially the threefold mode of Christ's body, and that most people probably don't care. But this list of diverse topics presents some challenging questions. I hope that at least reflecting on the questions alongside the texts will offer some reminders, of not some insight, for your preaching.

  • Do our bodies and what we do with them matter to God?
  • Can we lose God's gift of salvation? Can we put ourselves outside of God's grace?
  • What does it mean to be made in the image of God and also to be a sinner?
  • Should we allow those in positions of religious authority to serve in elected political office, and vice versa?