Epistle: Colossians 3:1-11
1So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. 5Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Life in Christ includes a radical reorientation of our values. Just as the newly baptized shed their old clothes and put on new garments, so Christians are called to let go of greed and take hold of a life shaped by God’s love in Christ.
I remember going shopping for new school clothes. New corduroys with matching shirts, new blue jeans and a coat for the fall. The beginning of a new school year was coming, and there was hope, filled with anxiety and uncertainty, but also a sense of awe and wonder. Those new clothes were a trademark of all that was about to occur.
Several years ago, I remember greeting a young boy who was heading into 5th grade in the coming days. He had on a new blue shirt with yellow pinstripes – very sharp! It was a new shirt for the new school year! I told him I liked his shirt, especially since they were Michigan colors! I knew he was a big Ohio State fan. He didn’t appreciate the comment. His mother was not happy with me – she told me he never wore that shirt again!
I love the imagery of putting off the old clothes and putting on the new ones – “stripped off of the old self with its practices.” What old clothes do you need to take off and throw away? What in your closet needs to be tossed?
And put on new clothes, a new self “which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.”
From “The Message” by Eugene Peterson, verses 9-11:
You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
New clothes. New life. New beginnings. It can be scary, but also exciting and filled with awe.
Let us pray: Almighty God, clothe me in your love, and label me as your beloved. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen