Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we stand at the genesis of a new year, first, we thank You for guiding, protecting, and blessing us in the old one. And secondly, we ask that You not withhold any of Your mercy and kindness from us in this new one. Since we know that in love You’ll provide us with what we ask and more, this year we all say with confidence: “Thy will be done!” Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE MAKER OF TIME AND OF YOU!
TEXT: Colossians 3: 12-17
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Looking Forward To More of God’s Grace:
Happy New Year! That being said, I’m still on a Christmas high. This past Christmas was one of the best in my entire life. Why? Well, I’m still figuring that one out. Perhaps it was the fact that Debra Ann and I didn’t buy each other gifts, so we didn’t have the hassle of letting society superimpose its definition of Christmas joy upon us. Instead, we focused our total attention on appreciating the kindnesses of all of you, and most of all the kindness of the Christ-Child. I do know that the older I get the more joy I receive from the Christmas services. They are Christmas in our household. I know that you feel the same way, too. That being said, I’ll bet you enjoyed opening your Christmas gifts—even the socks, ties, and scarves! And I’ll bet that most of you added to your wardrobe during the after-Christmas sales, as well.
When I utter the words: “Christmas clothes”—what comes to mind? Is it that special glittering dress, garish sweater, or red and green coat? You wear them during festive times, but then pack them away for another 11 or so months. Today, I want to remind you of the special clothing you have received from Christ this past Christmas. Clothing that never goes out of style. For as we examine this text from St. Paul we see that God has given each of us:
CHRISTMAS CLOTHES DESIGNED BY OUR SAVIOR
Each Christmas Eve I wear my tuxedo to church. I do so to honor my Lord and hallmark His birthday. But, you won’t catch me wearing it while shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, or weeding the garden. It simply isn’t appropriate for those occasions. However, Christ’s designer clothing is wearable anytime! It’s always appropriate! Listen again to what He has given you to wear through the gift of faith. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
On this new year’s day we can do no better than to adopt this as our seasonal resolution. If I wear my tuxedo mowing the lawn, the neighbors would laugh. If you wore your evening dress while raking leaves, people would snicker. But Christ’s Christmas clothing is wearable 24-7. No matter if you’re at the office, at home, shopping, helping the kids with homework, or sitting quietly in prayer each of these virtues touches and uplifts all around you. No sane person mocks humility or compassion. No one scoffs at kindness or gentleness. Everyone appreciates a patient person. And all crave forgiveness when they realize the inadvertent hurts they have caused. So, why not wear your faith on your sleeve and spread joy around this upcoming year? After all, that’s why Christ has given you His gift of forgiveness and all these other virtues, isn’t it?
Christ’s Christmas clothes never go out of style, either. They are durable. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s examine them one-by-one.
When people are compassionate towards you, how do you react? When they put themselves in your shoes and focus their love and concern totally towards you, how do you feel? Isn’t it wonderful to know people that really care? Isn’t it great to know that you’re not alone with your problems and worries?
When others show kindness towards you and are humble about it, not acting the dictator, but instead the loving friend, doesn’t that take a huge burden off of you? It makes the heart glad. It brings a smile to our faces.
When fellow workers are gentle in correcting our mistakes and patiently bear with us when anger or frustration get the better of us, isn’t that a wonderful blessing? And when people we’ve hurt care enough to gently tell us and then to forgive us and put those hurts we’ve caused aside, doesn’t it make everything right?
As a Christian you can do all these things. You can wear Christ’s Christmas clothing with confidence each day knowing that they truly do never go out of style. How? By remembering that Jesus has freely forgiven you every one of your hurts and sins by dying for them on a cross. He forgives and forgets. He doesn’t hold any grudges. And armed with His love, the simple love of a Savior in a manger, you can do the same. As Paul says: “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
O, but don’t all clothes get soiled and dirty over time? Well, that may be true of earthly dress, but not eternal dress. Not unless we let sin get in the way and pull us into the mud. And to avoid that, Paul gives us some very special advice. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Each week at church during 2006 God will clean your clothes with the announcement of His forgiveness and with the application of His love on your soul in holy communion. Each time you pray He will uplift you from the dirt of this world and turn your thoughts heavenward toward something better. Every time you sing a hymn, have a devotion, or ponder a section of His Word of truth the Spirit will come with the cleansing fire of His love. Indeed, every time you humbly thank Him for family, friends, job, house, possessions, and health—you’ll be reminded that Christ has given you these gifts as opportunities to show the self-sacrificing love He has placed within you. And your soul will be glad once more.
Does all this mean that His Christmas clothing is dependable? Yes! For just as you feel good about yourself when you’re wearing something special, so you’ll feel really good about yourself when you’re wearing His precious gift of forgiving love! His robe of holy righteousness always uplifts and breeds confidence, for as Paul says elsewhere: “If God is for us, who an be against us?” Amen