I had a friend at the seminary who once told me that the reason he wanted to become a pastor was so he would never have to worry again about what he would wear because he could always wear the clerical collar and shirt. I think he was joking… mostly. You know me and I could never go that far, I like to mix it up a bit. I usually do pretty good, for a guy, but I still need help, Honey can you tell me if this tie goes with this shirt or are these pants dark blue or black. I’ll still ask her sometimes before I walk out if I look properly pastoral enough. A lot of has to do with who you have helping you.
During the Times Square New Year’s Celebration I noticed this year’s celebration, to me, felt more subdued than years before. I’m not sure why, but even what people were wearing wasn’t all that crazy like they do some years, a few fun hats, but mostly the new year seemed to be dressed in coats and gloves. If you could dress up your new year how would you dress it?
I think one of the most common answers that we hear each and every year is that we wish our new year will be dressed in peace, prosperity and good health. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that but the new year as far as we can tell could also be dressed in war, poverty and illness. These kinds of clothing will always kind of come and go in and out of fashion so to speak, year in and year out. Their may be certain kinds of clothes we would like to wear this year but there is no guarantee that’s how our wardrobe will turn out.
The old testament passage today from Isaiah tells us that the whole world this year will be dressed in a dark covering that blots out all light and hope.The darkness of sin, the hopelessness of life apart from the love of God and the finality of that death. Not only is this darkness covering the whole world but it is also a darkness that we willing put on. Every time we hold back forgiveness we button another button and every time we speak words in anger we drape that darkness over our shoulders. All these broken thoughts, words and actions that we cover ourselves to hide ourselves away from being vulnerable and being loved. Pretty soon we’ve clothed ourselves with so much darkness we don’t know what it’s like not to be clothed with that darkness or how to live without it.
But that’s not how God sees us, this is hard, but there is no covering and no clothing to hide us from God. In this New Year, just like all of the years before and all of the years to come, we are stark naked and completely exposed before the presence of God. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight all of our sin and shame, all of our hurtful words and broken actions, every shred of darkness we have clothed ourselves with is all put aside and we are laid bare before God. I don’t know about you but there is a lot in my own life that I don’t want anybody to know about, that I am ashamed of, but I can’t get away from this truth that none of that is hidden from God. We say like those in the garden said, “I was ashamed because I was naked.” Not naked of body but naked of spirit, I am naked and ashamed before God because of my brokenness and sin and I have nothing to wear in 2016.
I think my wife in particular would appreciate this next thought and all of you out there that sew. Remember in the garden when they hid and said I’m naked and ashamed you know the first thing God did for them? He made them clothes. I get this silly image of God at a sewing machine pumping away a new set of threads for Adam and Eve to wear. But someone had to die for those clothes to be made, for their shame to be covered, someone had to die and that death pointed forward to the death on the cross where our savior had to die so that God could make clothes for us to wear to cover all of our shame.
When you are in Jesus Christ God has clothed you with His Son, He has draped all of Jesus’ righteousness around you and covered your sin though it be red as scarlet now it is as white as snow. In Jesus we are not naked and ashamed in the coming new year but we are clothed in Jesus Christ who covers all of our sin. When God sees you he doesn’t see the darkness of your sin anymore but you are the best dressed and styling person this side of heaven.
This is important because when we came into this world we were naked and exposed, I don’t remember for myself but I sure do remember for my kids! But when we leave this world we leave the same way and when we are before God there is nothing that we can dress ourselves with either we are covered in the darkness of sin apart from God or we are dressed in God’s righteousness in faith that covers us completely and we come before the presence of God with no shame, only thankfulness.
It is that righteousness of God through Jesus that in faith we are wearing right now. God’s light is clothing you already, will you reach for the shirt stained with the darkness of sin to wear? It clashes like polka dots and plaid together.
Instead in 2016, Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.