Clothed with Christ

The other day, when I went into the fishmongers, the proprietor was beside herself, she was apoplectic. Whatever could have happened, I wondered? What had put her into such a state of consternation. Well, a woman had pulled up outside the shop, got out of her car and came in wearing a dressing gown, pyjamas and slippers. ‘I’ve seen it all now!’ she said. I have seen such attire at the school gate, and in the newsagents. Personally, I feel ashamed answering the door in my dressing gown, let alone leaving the house! Other people are simply not bothered. Dress codes have become more relaxed: male government ministers may not always wear a suit and tie, thinking that rolled up shirt-sleeves denote a man who is getting stuck in; some church ministers now never wear vestments, thinking that mufti makes them more approachable; not all nuns wear veils or even habits.

What of the man, at the end of the parable of the wedding banquet (Matthew 22.11-14)? We might feel rather sorry for him. He is swept up with the other guests, from the highways and byways, and afforded the great privilege of attending the wedding banquet of the king’s son. He may not have had time to change into something more appropriate. He may not even have had such decent clothing. His savage treatment might seem rather harsh. Scholars suggest that Matthew has joined two parables together, and we should consider them separately. Thus we see that this man has disrespected the host. He has insulted him by implying that his host is not worth the effort of putting on decent clothes.

St Paul says that when we are baptized, we are clothed with Christ, we put him on. As baptized Christians, we need to ensure that we keep Christ on, that we do not shed this apparel. It must be apparent to the world that we are Christians, that we do not sully our appearance by bad behaviour and hypocrisy. If we are Christians then we should display Christ. The way for us to live is laid out for us in the teaching of Jesus. The way is clear, how we can be smartly dressed with Christ.

This is especially important because if we do not shows Christ in our words and actions, others may not be drawn to him; or worse still, they may be repelled from him. I remember a woman who once said to me, ‘I would like to come to church, but I’ve heard how they speak about each other.’ So much damage has been caused by the church when it has not acted in a Christ-like way, and has failed to live out the ideals it professes, and by individual Christians who have behaved so badly to other people, especially in abusing the the vulnerable. It would be easy to list failures, but do so would be to turn attention away from ourselves. If we pass judgement on other Christians, we have to judge ourselves first.

When I was a student I remember being turned away from night clubs, because I was not dressed in a sufficiently stylish way. I would not have been an embellishment to the establishment. In the eighties, you could not get into Ritzy’s Night Club in Norwich with jeans or trainers. If you weren’t dressed right, you didn’t get in. It was quite a miserable experience to be turned away, especially if your friends had got in.

There is a risk that we can take heaven for granted, trusting in the mercy of God to overlook our failings. But Matthew’s parables are a warning to the complacent, a wake-up call to those who ought to know better. You’ve got to put on Christ and put things right while you have the chance.

God is extremely generous with his invitations, he invites all to the banquet, to eternal life with him. Some ignore the invitation, some react disgracefully. But God invites all, through the Holy Spirit, and there are many people who would not call themselves Christians who live more Christ-like lives than some of us who claim to be Christians.

We need to take care of our appearance, or there will be consequences. Judgements are always being made of us.  I know of a family that stopped using the services of a particular funeral director, because he didn’t polish his shoes for a funeral. In contrast my grandfather always polished his boots, even  before he went to work at the pig market. As Christians we need to be equally scrupulous, we can’t just leave off Christ, not bother to put him on, or discard him, even for a moment. If we do, there may be consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Jesus, God meets our needs

as generously as only God can.

Everyone is invited to the feast of his son,

no matter how unworthy we may be.

Let us come before the Lord,

acknowledging our faults and failings

and confess to him our sins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church.

 

That our leaders may be display integrity.

Help us not to be hypocritical

To practice what we preach.

 

Our churches may be beacons of welcome, hospitality

And acceptance

 

World.

Stability, and peaceful co-operation between nations.

Diplomats and politicians may work together to find solutions between America and North Korea and Iran.

Peace in Syria and Iraq the Middle east, and for all refugees.

 

Country

Schools, at Whitefriars and St Michaels.

For our young people that they may follow the right path in life. Pray for all who are heavy-laden with the problems of life. Teach us how to share our problems with each other and not to keep them in.

 

Sick

 

Departed.