You’ll never guess what I’m wearing under my robe? Of course, that is one the reasons to wear robe—to keep whatever I’m wearing from being a distraction during worship. Because you never know [take off robe to reveal Christmas sweater] what I’ll wear.
This morning it’s just this Christmas sweater. Some people might say it’s an ugly Christmas sweater, but that’s not really fair is it? This red and shiny colorful shirt may have made that person who bought it, it may have made them feel good to put this on. All these colors and sparkles making or showing how happy they were. Clothing can do that. Fashion says something about us. how we feel about ourselves and others can be reflected in our fashion.
Lauren Winner in her book: Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire and other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God notes: [that] “fashion” is also a verb. It means “to mold or to shape.” We fashion dough into the shape of a bread loaf; we fashion clay into a pot or a bowl. Indeed, the word “fashion” had that meaning—the action of making or shaping something—before it became a noun designating clothing, and “fashion” came to designate apparel precisely because clothing shapes us.
I think that is why the writer of our first reading, from Baruch says to the people:
Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.
Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God;
put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting;
I’m not sure what a robe of righteousness would look like. What Baruch is actually saying is that, God’s promises that they, that the people would return from Exile, return to Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem this promise is really real. And if they believe in that God, if they really believe in that promise—they had to look like it. Now perhaps this wasn’t actual fashion advice about what the people should literally be wearing. The point is that what we believe on the inside should be shown on the outside.
The church talks this way as well. Paul in his letter to the church in Rome tells us to “put on” Christ and that this is what is happening at baptism. In baptism, what will happen with baby Everett in a few minutes, is that we are enfolded in God’s love. God says to us that no matter what God is going to be closer to us, than even a cute little onesie that baby Everett will wear. We know living up here in Wisconsin, that clothing isn’t just for show; it keeps us warm, safe, protects us from the elements. And in baptism we are protected from the powers of death for we know that no matter what God loves and forgives us all–little Everett, you, me.
You know, we’re not very different from this little baby here. We need to be told, reminded again and again that God is outfitting us to live in this world. Just as everyday we get up and get dressed to face the world, because we are baptized we get to put on Christ.
Which sounds really good to me this morning, you see I don’t know about you but I’m tired, so tired about having to “put on” the clothes of mourning, wondering when our country will put on sack-cloth and ashes repenting our addiction to violence and guns. Jesus’ way is different. He’s not about presents, not even about shiny decorations. Instead we are being fashioned to bring peace, joy, and love in this world. Everyday as we pick an outfit–imagine the Spirit with us. We can pull on the love of Christ. We are wrapped up in forgiveness. Just as we would pull gloves on our hands, we can imagine pulling his peace onto our hands. Whether it’s a fancy dress, a work shirt, sweatpants, or a red sparkly Christmas sweater, boots or sneakers. It doesn’t matter much what we are seen in, what we have on. What matters most is that Christ everyday we put on Christ, and Jesus is seen in us. Amen.