“He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).
Many systems, religious, philosophical, and scientific, posit a unity that underlies all things. Something as simple as establishing the relationship of one idea to another, or one event to another, is built upon an assumption of a fundamental unity between distinct things.
Growing out of this is the notion that there are rules that govern all systems. This is true for science, but it’s also true of other systems, even magical ones. It’s even true of General Convention!
In Charles Williams’ novel, The Greater Trumps, one character explains the pre-modern and mystical world of tarot in this way: “All things are held together by correspondence, image with image, movement with movement: without that there could be no relation and therefore no truth. It is our business… to take up the power of relation.”
St. Paul’s image of Jesus as the One who is before all things and in whom all things hold together is akin to this. What is revolutionary about the insight is not that Jesus exemplifies a larger principle of unity, but that he himself is the unity, the rule that governs of all things. This is revealed in a man who lived at a particular place at a particular time: what theologians sometimes call “the scandal of particularity.” Jesus is not an example of anything. A Jew of the first century is the thing himself, the very unity of the cosmos. We discover our relationship in him, and in him we make sense, and ourselves make sense of all things.
The church of which Jesus Christ is the head takes up the work of relation. We seek to hold together in him, to correspond to one another. The work of our Convention is predicated on the relationship we have with him, and the strengthening of that relationship with each other and with all creation.
- Bishop John