The First Sunday
After Christmas Day
Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:1-17
Living as Those Made Alive in Christ
3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselveswith compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- Colossians 3:4 Some manuscripts our
- Colossians 3:6 Some early manuscripts coming on those who are disobedient
Sermon: “A Christmas State of Mind”
For years, psychologists have said that a person’s wardrobe reflects his or her personality or frame of mind. More recently, they’ve gone one step further. Now, they’ve discovered, the clothes we wear shape who we are. It’s called “enclothed cognition.” I’ll let this little clip explain it.
As so often happens, science is catching up with what common sense already took for granted. Why, way back in 1953, Fred Astaire knew a shine on your shoes could turn your day around.
The shoeshine man dancing with Astaire really was a shoeshine man. Just days before, he’d been shining shoes at his stand at Sixth and Main Street in downtown Los Angeles. He was a twenty-three-year-old Oklahoma native named Leroy Daniels.
In those years, competition in the shoeshine business in downtown Los Angeles was tough. Leroy needed something to set himself apart. He got an old jukebox, stocked it with jazz records, and, while the music played, put on a show as he shined his customer’s shoes.
He made up all kinds of rhythms with his brushes. He popped his polishing rag in time to the music. And, of course, he danced.
As it happened, the choreography for “A Shine on Your Shoes” had Fred Astaire stumped. As it also happened, Alex Romero, the film’s assistant dance director, had had his shoes polished by Daniels.
When Astaire needed ideas, Romero told him about Daniels. Astaire didn’t hesitate. “Get him,” he said.
So, the next day, Leroy Daniels found himself on the lot at MGM, meeting probably the greatest dancer the movie world has ever seen. He shined Astaire’s shoes doing his usual routine, and, according to Alex Romero, “Fred went out of his mind.”
Daniels never had any training as a dancer. As you can tell, though, he more than held his own. In fact, his performance was so good editors cut it back a bit, thinking it would take too much attention away from Astaire’s dancing.
After you dance with Fred Astaire at MGM, you don’t go back to a shoeshine stand. Daniels started a successful nightclub act, released comedy albums during the nineteen sixties, and became friends with some of the greatest African-American performers of the time.
Down through the years, he made guest appearances on Sanford and Son as well other TV shows, and performed in several films before his death in 1993.
So far, so good, right? Looking back at it now, things aren’t quite so hunky-dory. Daniels’ dance with Fred Astaire is one of the most memorable parts of The Bandwagon. The studio paid him extraordinarily little, and left his name out of the film’s credits.
Daniels worked on the set for a week and dance for three and a half minutes with Fred Astaire. For that, he received $350. The arcade machine that exploded into music and flags, on screen for all of twenty seconds, cost the studio $8,800.
Daniels is the only African-American in the arcade. He’s clearly not equal to the white faces around him. As far as the movie goes, Astaire’s character translates Leroy’s dance steps into fame and fortune on Broadway, while the shoeshine man stays in the arcade.
Justice and fairness are more important than even the shiniest of shoes. That’s why Colossians has its own version of enclothed cognition, saying we should let our spiritual wardrobe shape and mold us into the people that, in God’s sight, we already are.
Christ’s resurrection totally changes everything, Colossians says. Helping people see that was another matter entirely. It takes a lot to shake up our assumptions and have us look at the world in a new way.
This Christmas Eve we celebrated the golden anniversary of a photograph that did just that. It’s now known as “Earthrise.” Astronaut Bill Anders snapped the shutter as Apollo 8 orbited the moon. After NASA developed the shot two days after splashdown, it turned up on the front pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, and got a two-page spread in Life magazine.
“Earthrise” went about as viral as anything could in 1968. It helped bring together a nation torn by the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement, protestors, and assassinations.
“Earthrise” also planted the seeds for the environmental movement. The first Earth Day took place sixteen months after Anders took the photograph.
He later said, “To me it was strange that we had worked and had come all the way to the moon to study the moon, and what we really discovered was the earth.”
Just as “Earthrise” changed the way we look at our world, Christ’s resurrection should change the way we look at reality. The Colossians were, and we are still, part of that new life. It’s time for us to act like it, the author says. That means purging our spiritual wardrobe of all our old clothes.
So, put to death everything in you that belongs to your old nature: promiscuity, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as idolatry. (Vs. 5)
We’re to put on a new self, one that, “grows in knowledge, as it’s formed in the image of its Creator.” As a new people, we’re now God’s “chosen ones, holy and beloved.”
Our new identity brings with it a whole new spiritual wardrobe.
Because you’re God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt compassion, with kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Vs. 12)
If we dare do that, we’ll find ourselves at odds with the world.
That’s why, too often, you and I turn from God’s call and seek the false comfort of what’s easy. When we do, we become part of a world where right is hard and wrong is strong, where the good thing is something we do only when it best serves us, or when it’s convenient, or when we have no choice.
A life like that eats away at our faith. It leaves us believing that we can’t weather life’s storms and that we’re helpless in the face of life’s obstacles. When we don’t stand up for anything, we soon stand for nothing. We’re left faithless, hopeless, and fearfully, horribly, alone.
God calls us to take, not the easy way, but Christ’s way. God calls us, not to a life of resignation or retreat, but of growing into who we are as God’s people―chosen, holy, and beloved, purging our spiritual closet of our old life and clothing ourselves with the new life, the resurrected life, that is already ours.
Like that Apollo a picture taken fifty Christmas Eves ago, Christ’s birth, along with his resurrection, should change the way we see the world as well as the way we relate to each other. It’s time for enclothed cognition, Christian style.
Clothe yourselves with heartfelt compassion, with kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Vs. 12)
We’ll spend the rest of our lives growing into our new spiritual trousseau. May it shape us and mold us, that whatever we do, whether in speech or in action, we do it in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord, giving thanks to God through him.