Foundation Garments for Christians
Words for Bible Sunday – 25th October 2020 – A cyber sermon from the Vicarage
Text: Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. (Colossians 3.14–16)
God give you peace my sisters and brothers.
Yesterday our middle son Johnathan was taken shopping by three women. My sister, a beloved friend from his school days, and a former work colleague, took him out for a slap-up Brunch in Bury St Edmund’s and then a tour around the Gent’s outfitters so that they could give him their advice on the outfit the Groom-to-Be is to wear next May when he marries Sara. Both Lesley-Anne and I – as well as Sara – are eager to see the fruits of their labours!
Of all of the Scripture Readings used at Weddings my favourite one is today’s extract from Colossians 3. All about clothing, it seems to sit well in a church full of people dressed in their carefully chosen finery. For some (I know it was for Lesley-Anne and myself) our wedding outfits are the most expensive outfits we have ever bought. It was a sadness for us to give them away to others when we returned home to England. I suppose we are still held in the thrall of the old aphorism that ‘Clothes make the man’ (and woman). Yet if we turn up for work or an occasion in the wrong clothing, like the unfortunate wedding guest in Matthew’s Gospel, we are likely to be turned away. Builders must needs wear Heavy Boots and Hard Hats to work, Sailors wear lifebelts, School Crossing Guards Hi-Viz jackets, Vicars are known by their Dog Collars (for the most part) and Chef’s by their Whites – which seem to get grubby fairly quickly! Sometimes clothing is about custom, after all it is expected that clergy wear closed black shoes all the time…. 🙂 and some clothing is about necessity; it is foolhardy to be a cleaner of High Rise Office windows without wearing a safety harness. But clothing almost always speaks of our intentions. So at a wedding Bride and Groom and their guests often wear their finest clothes as a sign of the prosperity that they hope and pray is to come during the marriage.
Of course this does not mean, unless you are a character in a Dicken’s novel, that Bride and Groom wear a three piece suit or a dress with hoop and train for the rest of their lives! The finery of the wedding gives way to the everyday clothes of the marriage. This is where the words from Colossians, describing the Foundation Garments of a Christian come to the fore.
To turn promises into a life together Wife and Husband – and indeed each of us – must needs trade Top Hat and Veil for a different vesture.
Here are the contents of the Christian wardrobe;
Compassion, Kindness, Humility,
Meekness, and Patience.
Forbearance, Forgiveness, Harmony,
Peace and Thankfulness.
And above all, Love.
Now if only Coes the Gents Outfitters and Ashton Jayne Bridal were able to keep those items on their racks? Our parish would be a very different place indeed! I for one would be happy to beggar myself if I were able to go into Coes on Monday morning and ask for a duffel coat of Patience in a size 44 and a 2XL hoodie overflowing with forgiveness. But sadly ‘Clothing ourselves in love’ is not an ‘Off-the-Peg’ item. These Foundation Garments of the Christian life can only be woven, sewn and made to measure by the work of our own hands and the generosity of our own hearts.
How do we make these outfits which we must wear if we are to travel the journey of life well?
Colossians tells us how.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3.16-17)
We have the makings of the clothes in our hands every time we pick up the Bible, the Word of Christ. We become seamstresses of the faith every time we stand together with Christian sisters and brothers, encouraging and being encouraged by each other. Whenever we choose to act in Christian charity and hope to help another we find ourselves to be God’s tailors building a world where all may flourish.
This current time means we cannot live our faith in the ways we have always been used to but we can do these three things;
Read and study the Word of God
Encourage one another on the journey of faith
Imitate Jesus by being diligent in our service to the least, the last and the lost.
And if we do this we will find that we have made for ourselves a trousseau of clothes that will never ever go out of fashion which will be ours to wear, and never wear out, at the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb.
[This blog ‘Foundation Garments for Christians’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged]
 If you do not have a copy of the Bible of your own please ask one of the Ministry Team who will arrange for you to be given one. To help us study the Bible there are many good Scripture Reading notes available from organisations such as the Bible Reading Fellowship (my personal favourite since I was a teenager) Scripture Union, and Every Day With Jesus. Why not subscribe to one of them?