who gave great gifts to your servant Anselm
as a pastor and teacher:
grant that we, like him,
may desire you with our whole heart and,
so desiring, may seek you
and, seeking, may find you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— 23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.
24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.
This is a fantastic extract. I encourage you to be entirely absorbed by it, pausing to reflect on each verse in turn. It echoes the beginning of time, his presence in creation, through to death and resurrection and the hope of salvation; with incarnation, truth and evil, grace, reconciliation all covered, plus that marvellous verse, which I have enjoyed since schooldays, even during exams in atomic physics at university: He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. I am reminded of this phrase every time I hear more about origins of space and the discoveries at CERN – we are still exploring what holds it all together.
(…the dependence of the metaphorical on the literal, specifically the way in which the literal meaning is still ‘alive’ in the metaphorical application… lifted from Hale, Wright & Miller)
It also encompasses suffering, which Paul was well-acquainted with.