Word from Pastor Anglin
I was settling down on the carpet with the children from St. Paul’s school, ready to begin a singing session, when a little girl suddenly cried out: “I’m going to be a ballerina!”
I was about to compliment her good taste in careers when a little boy announced, “I’m going to be a tiger!” Since “tiger” is not usually considered a career path, I realized that the children were not discussing their professional futures--they were sharing with me how they planned to dress for trick-or-treat.
Interestingly, none of them said: “I’m going to stuff myself with chocolate until it runs out my ears.” For them, the coming holiday’s attraction lay, not in candy, but in costumes. And they were already beginning to dream about it in mid-September.
There’s a certain joy in dressing up and pretending--and not just in October. I remember as a child bounding around the house all year long with a towel stuck in the back of my collar (a substitute for Superman’s cape). When the Sears catalogue began carrying costumes, I was overjoyed. No longer relying on terrycloth, I now could have a real Superman suit. I also got an Army uniform from Sears (which enabled me to play General Omar Bradley at my Cub Scout banquet). Putting on those costumes helped me express my childhood dreams (if only I could be as strong as Superman) and values (I admire the soldiers who bravely defend our freedom). While the costumes today tend more toward Power Rangers and firefighters, the way children dress up and pretend still reflect what they would like to be.
When we grow older, we’re usually denied the privilege of dressing up and pretending... But the focus then shifts somewhat to how we dress in our daily lives. Perhaps we get a job that involves wearing a uniform. Perhaps we work at a job that has a dress code. Perhaps we cultivate a personal style that involves certain types of clothing. The business world often sets the pace in dress--in the 1980s, it was suspenders and power ties (prompting one radio personality to remark, “I bought a power tie but I still haven’t figured out how to plug it in”).
In the end, though, our dress makes a statement--whether as a small child who wants to dress like a ballerina or a businessperson who wants to dress with style--a statement about who we are and what we want to be.
“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh with its sinful desires,” the Bible says. (Romans 13:14) “All those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” Scripture declares. (Galatians 3:27) Putting on Jesus--the Scriptures are depicting Jesus as being like a suit of clothes. We are clothed in Him, in His righteousness, in His holiness. We put Christ on spiritually just like we put clothing on our bodies.
By clothing us, Christ covers our sin. When Adam and Eve fell into sin, they tried to cover themselves up with fig leaves. But that was inadequate. What we truly need to cover our sins, to forgive our sins, is Jesus Christ who shed His blood for us. That’s why we sing, “Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, my beauty are, my glorious dress...” (Hymn 371) That’s why we proclaim, “Clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne...” (Hymn 370) God clothes me in Jesus so that my sin can be covered, forgiven and forgotten.
When I put on Christ, though, it also helps me to be like Jesus. A little girl puts on a ballerina’s costume so that she can share in the ballerina’s elegance; a little boy dresses up like a soldier so he can share in the soldier’s bravery...and when I “put on” Christ, it enables me to become more like Jesus...more loving, more compassionate, more devoted.
A great Lutheran spiritual writer, Jacob Boehme, once suggested that in the morning, as we dress for the day, we meditate on this theme of “putting on” Christ. As I cast off my pajamas, I can think: “I want to throw off the old me, my old self that is under the dominion of sin”. And as I put on crisp, clean, fresh-smelling clothes, I can think: “I’m putting on Jesus Christ--my sins are covered and forgiven, and I can live a new kind of life, a life of love and commitment!” A good and practical spiritual exercise, and a great way to start the day!
And it reflects what happened in our baptism. In ancient times, people were given a white robe to wear after they were baptized--showing that they had put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness. In modern practice, we give a small “bib” to newly-baptized children--with the same message: You have put on Christ.
Talk about “power clothing”! Talk about “dressing for success”! We are wearing Jesus Christ as our spiritual garb. Our sins are covered...we can become more and more like Him... And clothed in His holiness, we will rejoice before God forever!
you and so do I!
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