Summary: A New Year sermon based on the lectionary text.
Colossians 3:12-17: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lordf has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christg 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.h 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
How Jesus Escaped
The Sunday after Christmas, the Sunday School teacher told her
students about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream, warning
him about danger to the baby Jesus and telling him how to escape
After the story time, the students were given an opportunity to
draw a picture about the story.
Most of the pictures were predictable, but Larry’s had an odd
element in it. "Larry, I see Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus
on a donkey, but what is that following the donkey?
"It’s the flea, teacher."
"Flea...? Ah...what flea?" asked the teacher.
To which the boy faithfully repeated the Bible verse, "Take Mary
and Jesus and flea to Egypt." he said. "There’s Mary, there’s
Jesus, and there’s the flea."
Don’t you think it is very unfortunate that a child has to run away at such a young age? I reminds me of my escape from China when I was three. During the Cultural Revolution thousands and thousands of Chinese escaped to Burma. Burma never welcomed immigrants, so most Chinese had to sneak into Burma by crossing a river, call Ruili River. If the Burmese guards saw any Chinese crossing the river, they would shoot them with their rifles. They are not as kind as our American border policy.
The first thing you do when you arrived in Burma is to put on Burmese dress because the two cultures are very different. They dress very differently, especially the women. But both Burmese men and women wear long skirts that they call long-chi. Unless you change your dress, you will be identified right away as someone from the other side of the river.
In the scripture today, we were reminded to put on Christian clothes because you have crossed the river from the dark to the light. How are Christians supposed to dress? The first century Christians cares more about the internal dress, internal character, then external ones because they were sick and tired of hypocrisy of the religious people of their days. Jesus spoke strongly against them. After crossing the river, God doesn’t want you to be still identified as someone from the other side of the river and send back by the authority.
This morning’s scripture lesson is from what I call the passage of Christian clothing. The passage is packed with instructions and if we can take this passage as our New Year resolution and be able to live with it, we will have a very fruitful year of 2007.
Before we look at these Christian clothing, the Bible reminds us of our status, or our identity. The passage began with, "As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved." First, you are chosen ones. This is one of the Presbyterian distinctives. If you are a Baptist, you choose a church that you want to go and you choose to be baptized when you are mature enough to make the choice. But the Presbyterians believe that we don’t choose to come to this church, but God chose us and brought us together. So the difference is that if you are a Baptist, you look for a church with a type of people you can get along. But if you a Presbyterian you try to get along with the people God put you with.
So in a Baptist church you often see the same type of people together, but in a Presbyterian church you would see a ragtag bunch of people, where you really have to stretch your patience to get along. This is not always true but that’s at least how these two denominations distinct from one another.
So remember, you are chosen by God. Not because you are good, or better than anybody else. You are chosen by God’s grace. It is not because of who you are it is because of who God is.
Secondly, you are holy. The word holy means being set apart. You are set apart by God as God’s own. It is like a marriage ceremony when a man and a woman is set apart for each other to be life time partners, for good, for bad and for a life time. Would it be awkward after the wedding ceremony, the bride went home with the best man? We need to know our status as holy people, set apart for God and God alone, for good for bad, and forever.