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Summary: Christmas Day changed a lot of people. Paul addressed some in the great city of Colossae – Christians who had a reputation of being strong believers, but had a little problem understanding why they were to act differently than the world. Don’t we all ha

First Sunday After Christmas ©

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

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. 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. -- NRSVA

Anne is an email buddy of mine; she is my Sister-in-law’s Sister-in-law. (Don’t try to figure it out; it hurts too much!) She sent me a two page account of their Christmas day. I thought one part just about nailed what Christmas does for us and to us:

We enjoyed our wild few days – what I call the extreme sport of Christmas. We are all winners since the Christ child came to live among us.

We had a nice chat with Aunt Kay and Howard. John [Anne’s husband, my brother’s brother-in-law] talked a little about Christmas, telling them we used paper plates and plastic knives and forks to make it easier on ourselves.

Howard said, That’s great. You didn’t have to count the silverware when everyone left. I said, You’re right, but I did count the children to make sure they were all taken away. [1]

Christmas Day changed a lot of people. Paul addressed some in the great city of Colossae – Christians who had a reputation of being strong believers, but had a little problem understanding why they were to act differently than the world. Don’t we all have that little problem?

Paul called them “chosen ones”. In short that means two things:

 They were changed. The early Christians were baptized as a sign of their willingness to change, be different. Men and women were baptized in different rooms, because the ceremony included stripping-off all clothing, and entering the pool naked. It was a signal that the old life had been stripped-away like a ragged garment. They were changed.

A story is told of a denomination that believed in baptismal sanctification (the moment you are baptized, you are sanctified, and therefore perfect -- you won’t ever sin again). One winter an older man got convicted, and decided to join the group. It was winter time and he wanted to be baptized right away; but the creek was frozen over. However, he had a great desire to be pure, so he convinced the deacons to baptize him. They cut a hole in the ice, took the old fellow out and dunked him in the hole, all the way, twice for good measure. As he came out the old man exclaimed, "Oh, it’s so wonderful. I’m sanctified. It’s so wonderful; I don’t even feel the cold." The head deacon said, "Let’s dunk him again,boys; he’s still lyin’!"

The new believers were really changed, and…

 They were clothed. Once baptized the new convert was given a new robe to put on; it was a white robe, symbolizing the new relationship of purity in Christ, and it was a new robe, which made a stark comparison with the old which had been discarded.

Paul uses this dressing analogy well. There is a connection here that is hard to miss unless you’re on another planet. Every day each and every one of us puts on our clothing. And we all have something in common about the way we do it. Without fail we put on our undergarments first, then our outer clothing (except Madonna, of course, who is goofy enough to wear her “unmentionables” where they get mentioned). They call ‘em “foundational” garments, because they are the first things to go on the bare ground.

Paul used the “putting-on-your-clothes” object lesson to teach some very important principles about living the Christian life. Let’s take a look at the careful wardrobe choices Paul asks us to make. In so doing we must remember that important principles never come cheaply…but some people don’t think that way

[At this point in the message there is a one minute video – a “commercial” for Christianity Lite which made the case against taking too light a view of the importance of careful attention to the choices you make about how you live your life as a Christian. 2]

Christianity Lite? If that means “Salvation Lite” then, no thank you! The choices we are going to look at are the choices that form your character. My brother, Thom, is a teacher. He has the responsibility for shaping young minds. (He’s older than me, and therefore had something to do with helping to shape my mind and thinking….but don’t hold that against him!). Thom has a motto under his email signature: Character Before Career. He takes seriously that Christianity Lite doesn’t take the cross of Calvary very seriously.

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