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Time to Get Dressed

Sermon - 11/28/10
Rev. April Oristano
First Christian Church, Eugene, Oregon

Romans 13:11-14

[Editor's Note:  This was the annual "Hanging of the Greens" service, where the sanctuary is decorated for Christmas.  Pictures included below]

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

 

 

It is the season to dress yourself warmly, yes? no?  No doubt. 

 

You know how cold it was this week – The Egan Warming Center was open this week Monday, Tuesdsay, Wednesday nights.  4 sites across town with open doors to those without shelter.  60 or so people here sleeping in our basement.   (or tell sleeping bag story donations all week). 

This winter has taken me by surprise.  I’ve looked in my closet multiple times this week and said, I’d like to have warmer clothes.  

 

It was cold!  A season to dress warmly and I’ll add a twist. 

It is the season to dress yourself in warmth. 

 

Advent is the season of anticipation, of hopeful expectation.  We celebrate Jesus’ birth, most likely not his actual Birth Day, but we do celebrate it.  And with his birth the unfolding of a life story that shows radical kindness, radical generosity, astounding warmth and ability to change other’s lives.  Advent is also the season when we are reminded to cultivate something new.    

Giving yourself permission to grow, to be open to the possibility of rebirth, of new creation – to change - it is an act that requires a particular clothing.  Spiritual clothing. 



The stars above the sanctuary carry prayers
and the names of loved ones.

 

The first bit of good news this morning: 

What you actually wear makes no difference at all to God.  It all comes from the source.  The physical packaging you come in creates a unique story but does not prevent you from connecting with the creative source.   No matter how far out there you are.

That is especially important to say this morning because this section of Romans that I am preparing to read – and I will read from the Message –  I do so on purpose…  

See, we don’t have time to talk about the significance of purity in this culture of Rome or the second return of Christ and how important and influential that belief was in the lives of these early Christians.

But I will say that my own cultural and social location is such that when I read Romans I sometimes cannot hear the message though all the judgment and finger pointing.   

 

Dan knows his Romans – as soon as I told him Romans 13 was in the lectionary for Advent – he said, “Oh, and what will you add to the bit on sexual immorality?”   We all had a good laugh in staff meting and then tried to think of Christmas carols.

You and I want to hear good news.  Things that encourage alertness and openness.  Not alertness and defensiveness, anger, definitely not shame.  So I read the Message, a paraphrase, no doubt, but I receive it more peacefully.  

11-14But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

The day is almost here!  The dawn is about to break – these phrases are familiar to you because it is a common Christian theme.  Often associated with Easter – but not entirely - the day break signifies a special time – a New Age.  Yes your rapture antennae are appropriately raised. 

Now is the Time to get Dressed. 

For what?  What if nothing happens?  Which had (I hope and pray) to be a conversation for the Romans.  See, we can’t just put on these clothes because the big day is coming, that cannot be enough.  It’s not worth getting dressed for if there is a chance it won’t happen. 

But I’m not going there today.  I’m not talking final salvation, I’m talking about daily salvation.  Think Daily New Creation.

Being open to newness – and what may grow out of it – is a universal longing in this world.   We want to be made new, want to see change in our lives.  And universally a challenge.

We put on the clothes of Christ, because these are the clothes that fit us.  When you look in the figurative closet of emotional choices – and you have quite the collection – the clothes of the spirit are the ones that make us feel whole.  That do not make us question our ability, our integrity, our purpose.  The presence – the spirit – of Christ is Open, truthful, critical, generous, warm, passionate,  in the moment.

I watched a television interview with the Dalai Lama years ago and he said that every morning he is aware he has a choice in attitude and that he must shape his motivation every morning – otherwise he might not get out of bed in the morning.   This is a man most consider Holy across many cultures and contexts.  This is a man who is still actively creating peace, hope, and joy in his life.  He still struggles and suffers and fails.  

The second piece of Good News today: 

It is not a contest, it is not a race.  Every – one gets tired, and distracted, and misses the point. 

  -- If you’ve noticed that your work has been so completely absorbing that time for yourself, the down time, the book nook time is gone by the wayside?  It is time.

--- If you’ve noticed that the invitation to be thankful this week was completely submerged by the invitation to purchase ½ priced electronics

---  If you are aware that the stress in your life is building.  Or that you are running from the same difficult conflict week after week -  or if you are simply ready for something new - It is time.  This invitation from Romans is for you - You can wake up. 

 

Be gentle and in return God will Gently lead you– by hope, love, joy, peace.  These are gifts that when embodied bring light into the world.  The attitudes that can help us get through the night.   The clothes we put on each day, in each moment as best we can. 

You don’t have to have them all.   In fact often you don’t. 

Make yourself aware of the presence of Christ and allow it to rest on you like your most comfortable sweat pants or your most attractive suit.  Whichever you prefer. 

Happy Advent to you – May you find yourself renewed.

 

 


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