Sunday, 30 December 2018

Clothing for the year

The attraction of the Boxing day sales is often too much for people. They dive in to find new inexpensive luxury clothing that would otherwise not be purchased. The sales are a good time to make these changes, although one wonders if in reality you are getting a bargain or is it that the store is ridding itself of old stock at a healthy markup.. The question is, as we reflect immediately after the frivolities of the season, do we need to find new styles of clothing that we should be wearing as Christians in the coming year? It seems a silly question but what we wear does say a lot about a person. Especially, when we are assessed by others by our outer clothing and how we stack up in a society that is focused on fashion. The writer to the Colossians says "Put on, then, garments that suit God's chosen and beloved people" (Col 3.12),

We occasionally take Paul and St Patrick's stiff armour of God a little too seriously and are caught out of time and place. So, let's take a look at some of the older fashions that we like and exchange them for some newer fashions, which are more attractive. Modern garments are somewhat more flexible, although older styles are still glamourised or over indulged by Christians. The stiff laces and whalebone corsets are often much admired as we focus ourselves on things that cannot change in our eyes or are seen as the traditional manner in which to comport ourselves. The inability to be open to the newness of God's life often renders our attitudes old fashioned and stiff. This does not mean to say that we should never look at old clothing but rather recognise that it is sometimes inappropriate for our closets. However, openness and a free flow is not always appropriate either in clothing. The fit and style needs to go with the circumstances of our lives as Christians and in some senses the basic style should not change but our presentation of them should, so that they are a compliment to the age in which we live.

Are we conscious of what we wear on the outside as Christians?

Perhaps, its because we think that our clothing needs to be cut from truth but actually our clothing should be love that is woven with truth. This gives our clothing a remarkable resilience in the face of abuse. If we prepare our clothing only with truth we are liable to become very stiff, like the breastplate and we get caught out wearing last year's armour. If, we have the main fabric as love then we are well on the way to showing the world how we can pleat it with compassion and hem it with humility. It allows us to be tolerant when others change the design slightly so that they can wear a more practical cloth for the work that they do in the community. This acceptance of the other brings joy into the hearts and minds of those we minister to rather than confronting them with stiffness and formality as we try to develop clothing only made out of our truth.

Of course, the cloth made of love that is threaded with truth is like teflon and kevlar, so that the stains of other's words against us do not penetrate and are easily removed with forgiveness. This clothing is unlike any other that is worn today as many people still wear the garments of hatred and anger such as found in 1 Samuel (2.26). Modern garments are light to wear and enable us to have a spirit of joy and laughter in our hearts. We wash them and care for them as we come into God's presence. We do not have to be brash about it but like Christ we do need to be in communication with God at all times (Lk. 3.49). In away this is what makes our clothing unique because it comes to us free when we are constantly in the presence of God and opening ourselves up to God's presence through prayer, worship and praise..

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