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The Fulfillment Center

All the buzz was about Amazon.

Shortly before we left Washington last year the online giant was set to put in a warehouse outside Spokane, bringing with it hundreds of jobs and a large investment in the region. What caught my attention, though, was Amazon's euphemism for their embassy: no mere warehouse, this was a "fulfillment center."

There's 175 such buildings throughout North America and Europe. According to Amazon, "The name reflects the function: Amazon fulfillment centers are charged with fulfilling customer orders." Though they don't say so, I can't help but detect an additional meaning in the term: the warehouse not only fulfills orders—it fulfills desires and dreams. 

Whether or not Amazon intended such a double meaning (I'll confess my own cynicism on this score), such is the empty promise of our age. Another car, another gadget, another pair of shoes and you will be satisfied. Amazon offers everything from Alexas to zip-ties, but I'd suggest that the principal product on offer is fulfillment.

And with free two-day shipping at that.

Ours is not the first age to seek fulfillment in all the wrong places. 

St. Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians because they were being tempted by the unfulfilling promises of their age. “See to it,” he writes, “that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit” (Colossians 2.8). The 1st century Colossians of course weren’t being allured by the appeal of our contemporary consumer culture, but a similar impulse may have lurked beneath what Paul calls the “self-made religion” that was besetting them (2.23).

Throughout this short letter, Paul presents a compelling contrast in Christ to the vanity of the world. “For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (1.19). John will echo this sentiment a number of years later when he writes his Gospel: “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1.16).

Jesus, in other words, is the true “fulfillment center” (if you’ll excuse the expression). He is the source of genuine fulness of life. Your possessions cannot provide it. Your job cannot provide it. And not even relationships with family and friends can ultimately provide it. These are good things, you understand; they simply can’t bear the weight of the human heart, any more than a grave can contain the Son of God. 

The fullness of life is found only in Christ. He is our true and only fulfillment center.

Over the next four weeks in our Saturday evening services we’ll be exploring Paul’s letter to the Colossians and learning more about this theme in a series entitled The Fullness of Christ. We’ll look at the fullness of knowledge (Col 1.1-14), promise (1.21-29), truth (2.6-19), and life (3.1-11). And my goal for the series is that you would come away more deeply fulfilled in your relationship with Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14.6). 

Even if He doesn’t offer free two-day shipping.

News & Notes

  • The family and I had a wonderful vacation up to Boston for my brother-in-law's wedding. On the way up we got to experience Niagara Falls, and then be in the town where the American revolution was born (apologies to Philly) on Independence Day. The only low-light was that my phone and wallet were stolen, but thanks be to God my license was recovered!
  • Time is running out on your chance to sign up to have your pictures taken for the photo directory. Sessions will be next week, Monday through Thursday. It's free to have your picture taken, and you'll get a complimentary 8x10. Sign up here.
  • The funeral for Dale Ulbrich will be held tomorrow—Friday, July 12th—at 1 p.m. at church. If you knew Dale, or if you know Norm and Sue, I encourage you to come out. 

From the Church Year

This coming week (July 16th) the Church Year commemorates Ruth. From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

"Ruth of Moab, the subject of the biblical book that bears her name, is an inspiring example of God's grace. Although she was a Gentile, God made her the great grandmother of King David (Ruth 4:17), and an ancestress of Jesus himself (Mt 1:5). A famine in Israel led Elimelech and Naomi of Bethlehem to emigrate to the neighboring nation of Moab with their two sons. The sons marriend Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth, but after about ten years, Elimelech and his sons died (Ruth 1:15). Naomi then decided to return to Bethlehem and urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah listened to Naomi's but Ruth refused. After Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, Boaz, a close relative of Elimelech, agreed to be Ruth's redeemer (Ruth 3:7-13; 4:9-12). He took her as his wife, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, the grandfather of David (Ruth 4:13-17), thus preserving the Messianic seed. Ruth's kindness and selfless loyalty toward Naomi, and her faith in Naomi's God, have long endeared her to the faithful and redounded to God's praise for his merciful choice of one so unexpected."

"And Naomi said, 'See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.' But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God'."

– Ruth 1.15-16

Looking ahead to Sunday

5th Sunday after Pentecost
  • Readings
    • Old Testament lesson—Leviticus 18.1-5; 19.9-18
    • Epistle lesson—Colossians 1.1-14
    • Gospel—Luke 10.25-37

+ Grace & Peace +

Pastor Tinetti

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