|Third Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 15, 2013||Third Sunday in Advent, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10, Matthew 11:2-11|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year A -The Circle of the Church Year||December 1, 2013||Advent 1, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, Yr C||November 24, 2013||Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, Year C||Luke 23:33-43|
|Twenty Sixth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||November 17, 2013||Proper 28, Year C||Malachi 4:1-2a, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-10|
|Twenty Fifth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||November 10, 2013||Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:27-38|
|Twenty Second Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||October 20, 2013||Proper 24C||Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Luke 18:1-8|
|Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||October 13, 2013||Proper 23, Year C||2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c, Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19|
|Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||October 6, 2013||Proper 22, Year C||Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, Psalm 37:1-10, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10|
|Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 29, 2013||Proper 21, Year C||Luke 16:19-31|
|Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 22, 2013||Proper 20, Year C||Luke 16:1-13|
|Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 15, 2013||Proper 19, Year C||Exodus 32:7-14, Luke 15: 1-10|
|Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 8, 2013||Proper 18, Year C||Luke 14:25-33|
|Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 1, 2013||Proper 17, Year C||Sirach 10:12-18, Psalm 112, Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16, Luke 14:1, 7-14|
|Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 25, 2013||Proper 16, Year C||Isaiah 58:9b-14;Psalm 103:1-8;Hebrews 12:18-29;Luke 13:10-17|
|Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 18, 2013||Proper 15, Year C||Hebrews 11:29-12:2|
Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year C
Sermon Date:August 4, 2013
Scripture: Colossians 3:1-17
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 13, Year C
Have you ever seen that TV show, “What Not to Wear?” On the show, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly go through the wardrobe of some poor unsuspecting person and throw away those clothes that are worn out, look bad, are out of style, or don’t fit well. On lots of shows, they end up dumping out almost all of a person’s clothes. It’s painful to watch, especially because I can think of what they’d do to my wardrobe!
Take this old sweatshirt for instance. It’s over twenty five years old, it’s frayed and has holes in it. What would Stacy and Clinton say about this? (Throw sweatshirt in the trashcan)
Or what about this skirt? Totally out of style and no longer fits. What would Stacy and Clinton say? (Throw skirt in the trashcan)
You might say that Stacy and Clinton took the idea for their show from the apostle Paul himself.
In several of his letters, Paul talks about our wardrobes. He uses the image of clothing to illustrate the fact that the Christian life is about stripping off the old self with its practices and putting on the new self—in other words, changing up our wardrobes.
And the sacrament of baptism is where this process of changing up our wardrobes begins—-the stripping off of the old self and putting on the new self, which is a lifelong process.
This idea of changing our wardrobes to reflect our new lives in Christ plays out in the history of Christianity.
Liturgical scholars report that in the early church, preparation for baptism was a lengthy process which finally culminated in the sacrament of baptism at the service we know as the Easter vigil—when a person got new clothes, not only spiritually, but also physically.
Because you see, baptism is about resurrection—dying to our old selves and putting on the new self that we hope will grow more and more to reflect the glory of God—
as Colossians says, being renewed in knowledge according to the image of God, our creator—putting on those new clothes that reflect God’s image.
One of the gifts of baptism is that it reminds us that the process of resurrection is not just a future experience that we can expect after death—
Resurrection begins here and now!
A present experience!
And so, in the early church, after going through the lengthy process of initiation, at the time of baptism, the converts who were to be baptized came to the baptismal pool naked. They literally left their old wardrobe behind.
They stepped down into this water bath, they were washed clean of the old sins that had dogged them, and after this washing, coming up out of the water, they were then clothed in new clothes, white garments, representing their new lives in Christ.
This white garment I wear every Sunday is called an alb. It’s similar to the garment that was given to the newly baptized and it’s a reminder to me each week , when I put it on, of my new life in Christ.
In Colonial times, the evangelical Methodists also followed this custom of wearing different clothes to symbolize their new lives in Christ. In her book, A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith, Lauren Winner quotes an article from the August 1739 issue of the Virginia Gazette in which the author pokes fun at this change in clothing style of the Methodists who have come to believe in “the doctrine of new birth.”
I’m not quoting the article exactly, but here’s the gist of it.
“They used to wear French silks, French hoops four yards wide, curly wigs, and white satin smock petticoats. And now they’ve turned Methodists, and followers of Mr. Whitefield, whose doctrine of new birth has so prevailed over them that now they wear gowns made of stuff,” which was a worsted wool considered appropriate for poor working women, no hoops, and the wigs have been replaced by “common Night Mobs”, which were white caps that tied under the chin and women usually wore them to bed. The white Satin smock petticoat has been replaced by one made with a material called bay, which was used in clothing by religious societies in England and was also worn by peasants.
Let me reassure you at this point that when Owen is baptized in a few minutes here, I am not going to strip him naked and then dress him in a white garment after his baptism to make my point, although in some churches, babies are baptized naked.
But I hope that all of us will carry with us from this day a reminder that our baptisms do mean that each day when we get up and get dressed, we remind ourselves that as Christians, we are clothing ourselves in Christ.
And also to remind ourselves that each day we are working to clothe our young children, who have received the sacrament of baptism, with new life in Christ. And that’s all of us remembering that clothing the children in this congregation is everyone’s responsibility, because baptism brings us together as a family—as the body of Christ himself.
Colossians gives us some great help in this ongoing process of changing up our wardrobes and putting on our new lives each day.
And these reminders from Colossians are useful to remember when you choose your wardrobe each morning.
When you get up, first thing, pray that you may be filled with the knowledge of God—and the better we come to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the more knowledge we have of God.
Focusing on God, and God above all else, helps us to clothe ourselves in the resurrection life when we get up each morning.
And to be intentional about this focus on God is important, because losing this focus is easy.
For example, this past week, The Washington Post had an interesting article about the wardrobe of Maureen McDonnell, our governor’s wife. The article reported that she had spent $17,000 to “upgrade her image….a big new job and nothing to wear! The former Redskins cheerleader complained that she didn’t have the right clothes for the public appearances, official travel and constant photo-ops.”
Maybe in this case, her new clothes turned out to be the old clothes that we’ve been talking about, clothes that kept her focus too exclusively on herself.
We get a “what not to wear” list in Colossians– things in our lives that can mess up our focus—the vice list we heard today gives us some ideas of things not to wear—fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry. All of these things have to do with a wrong focus.
Notice greed—greed is so insidious that we clothe ourselves in it without even realizing it. The farmer in today’s gospel who plans to build bigger barns to hold his huge harvest is someone who is clothing himself in greed. And the writer of Ecclesiastes, who lies awake at night full of despair because in the end he can’t take all he has gotten with him, and his heirs, who didn’t work for it, will inherit what he leaves behind, has also lost his focus on God because of his material possessions and his captivation with them.
The writer of Colossians also provides us with a list of things that destroy community, and keep us as a community from putting on new life—and those things are anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language– More unbecoming clothing for the trashcan.
These things have no place in the body of Christ. Throw them away!
Each one of us has something in our old wardrobe that needs to go in the trash. Being honest with ourselves about what those things are is essential, so we can get rid of them in order to wear the new clothes of resurrection life.
Today we heard a little more of Colossians—because the extra verses contain our new resurrection life wardrobe!–those new clothes we are to put on each morning when we get up. They’re listed in Chapter 3, verses 12-15.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
“Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other.”
“Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
“And above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.”
“And be thankful.”
Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, love, peace, gratitude, the willingness to forgive!
A stunning wardrobe!
Today, with great thanksgiving, we are going to baptize Owen in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
As the water of new life pours over him, remember that each one of us is called to help Owen clothe himself with this new life, each and every day, as he grows into an adult.
And may we recall our own baptisms by continually updating our wardrobes, stripping away our old selves and getting rid of what we shouldn’t wear, and by putting on the resurrection life of Jesus, clothing ourselves in love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Winner, Lauren F. A Cheerful & Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. 2010.