Dressed for Salvation

2019-12-29 – Year A – Christmas 1 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas
Isaiah 61:10-62:5; Psalm 147:12-20; Galatians 3:23-4:7; John 1:1-18

  • The Gospel lessons for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day focus on the details of the birth of Jesus, they tell us what happened.
  • The lessons for today tell us what these events mean.

The Right Clothing

  • For those of you who are married, can you remember what you wore on your wedding day? If you are not married, think about another significant event in your life.
    • We tend to wear special clothes for special occasions.
    • I thought a lot about what I would wear for my wedding. I didn’t like the way that a normal tuxedo basically looked like a regular suit. I wanted something special.
      • Morning coat with tails. An ascot instead of a bow tie. Grey trousers.
      • My tuxedo paled in comparison to my wife’s dress!
  • Isaiah 61:10
    • The speaker here seems to be the servant of the Lord, the Messiah (see 61:1)
      • Earlier in the chapter, God’s people were given “garments of praise” (61:3). Now the Servant himself is given special garments for a special purpose, Salvation and Righteousness. He is getting prepared to save his people. He is getting ready to visit us!
    • These clothes are not his normal attire. Notice that these special garments are bestowed upon him by the Lord. This reminds us that Jesus is sent by the father.
    • Let’s reflect on our garments of praise for a moment (62:3).
      • There is a faint echo of another time that God clothed his people with garments. They were garments made of animal skins to cover shame.
      • These new garments are celebratory, now our shame hasn’t just been covered, it has been completely washed away.
    • Story of the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:11-32.
      • The son desires to return to his father
      • The father welcomes him with open arms and clothes him with the finest of clothing. Luke 15:22.
        • The son would have been in bad need of a bath, his clothes may have been filthy rags, more than that, his actions, disowning his father and his family, warranted a much different reception.
        • This is a beautiful image of grace. The free gift of God’s favor towards us. This gift is made possible by the incarnation.
          • John 1:16 – “grace upon grace”

Green Plants from Brown Dirt

  • When I say the word “zoo” images of animals probably come to mind.
    • Shortly thereafter, I bet you begin to recall various smells.
    • Animals consume large quantities of food, and they produce large quantities of something else. Something that is rather smelly.
    • Did you ever wonder what happens to all of that manure?
    • Composted Zoo Poo
  • Gardening is a messy activity. Whether you are growing flowers or foods, it is impossible to do so without getting your hands and your clothes dirty.
    • You certainly wouldn’t wear your wedding clothes while gardening.
    • And yet this is what Jesus does for us. He comes to us spotless and perfectly righteous and then he takes our sin upon him.
      • 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “made him to be sin who knew no sin.
  • Isaiah 61:11 – righteousness and praise will “sprout up”
    • God gets into the messiness of our lives, and he causes righteousness and praise to sprout up.
    • He takes manure and dirt and brings forth the most beautiful flowers and the tastiest fruits and vegetables.
    • This too is an example of what we read in John 1:16 – “grace upon grace.”

The Attraction of a Changed Life

  • Why did God pour out all of this grace upon us?
    • Because he loves us. John 3:16.
  • The Wizard of Oz – Black and White to Color
  • John 1:14, 16 – “…we have seen his glory…”
    • The glory of Jesus shines into the darkness of the world.
    • For those who are set against him, this glory is blinding and repulsive.
    • For those who are open to him, the glory is mysterious and attractive.
  • When we become children of God, we reflect the glory of the Lord.
    • John 1:6-8 – John the Baptist is not the light, but he bears witness to the light.
      • How does God’s glory shine through you?
      • What is your testimony to bear witness about the light?
      • How has God changed you? Can others see it?
    • Isaiah 62:2 – “The nations shall see your righteousness.”
      • These words were spoken to the people of Israel, Isaiah saw a vision of the restoration of God’s people and he proclaimed it to them.
      • The purpose of this righteousness before the nations is not to rub it in their faces but to inspire them.
      • God wanted to restore not just Israel, but all of humanity.
        • God so loved the WORLD.
  • Therefore we must be like Isaiah. Isaiah 62:1 “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent…”
    • Isaiah couldn’t keep silent because of the duty he had to proclaim the message.
    • I imagine that he also couldn’t keep silent because of the overwhelming joy he felt.
    • Let us rejoice and not keep silent! Luke 1:46–49 – the Magnificat.

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