If you’re a church musician, you’ll love this reading. My own sense is that in liturgy circles, it gets done a little too much, but take heart: your casual Christians don’t hear enough of it:
Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Here’s the background of the letter to the Colossians. The Christian community there was beset by ideological tension, especially something of a proto-gnosticism, it is thought. After the typical structure of a Pauline letter (greeting, thanksgiving, some personal testimony from the apostle) there is an extended section dealing with right teaching. Following that is an extended passage on how to actually live as a Christian, and live within a community.
Living together brings out the worst in us. Or perhaps it becomes hard to mask the foibles and little cruelties we can inflict. The apostle gives a list of vices which precede this passage above. Then we are given the virtues for which one should strive. They are written for the particular situation in Colossae, but if they are broadly applicable to the Christian at large (as the compilers of the Bible seemed to think) they can in turn be utilized for the domestic Church, for a wife and husband. And children, too.
There is no obscure theology in this passage. It’s a list. A very good to-do list. The preaching on this passage should be simple: do the things the apostle says to do, and you’ll be just fine. If a couple wanted to celebrate their wedding day with a reminder of virtues, they couldn’t do much better than this.