Back-to-school clothes. Those words come down over the years to me with some emotional overlay! I can still tell you what outfit I wore on my first day of seventh grade back in 1956—a camel-colored wool pencil skirt, white blouse, and peach-colored cardigan sweater. Why does this outfit stick in my head? Probably because it was so important to me that I wore just the right thing for the momentous step of entering junior high. After all, there would be all these new kids from the other Sandusky, Ohio, grade schools merging together at Adams Junior High School, and I wanted to look my best!
I read an article about how people remember and associate clothing they wore with certain events that were important in their lives—the blue dress worn by a young woman on her first date with her husband-to-be, the dark gray suit bought for high school graduation, and the champagne silk mother-of-the-bride ensemble. Think about the outfits you remember and what they represent to you.
Clothing has an important place in our lives. It’s not just worn to protect our bodies from the elements, or to be modest, but is part of our culture. You can look at a person’s clothing and tell a lot about her/his socio-economic status, job, and interests. A man wearing Harley-Davidson apparel is telling the world something about himself, just as is a person wearing a Miami Dolphins starter jacket or a NASCAR cap.
In Colossians 3:12-14 (from The Message translated by Eugene H. Peterson) the Apostle Paul speaks of a different kind of clothing than that made of cotton, silk, or polyester. He challenges members of this fledgling Christian church to wear a new kind of metaphorical clothing.
“So chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Back in seventh grade, we called our friends nightly with the question, “What are you going to wear tomorrow?” It’s a good question for each of us to ask our self—not in terms of pants, shirts, or sweaters—but in Paul’s terms, qualities of character and relationship. We each choose whether or not to be compassionate, kind, humble, strong, disciplined, even-tempered, forgiving, and, most of all, loving in daily life.
Let each of us ‘dress for success’ wearing clothes from God’s closet!
In Christ’s love,
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ