Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Get a Glove and Get in the Game: a Sermon with Reference to Colossians 3.12-17 for the First Sunday after Christmas

12Therefore, as God's chosen people,

It feels good to be chosen for good. It feels good to be chosen by someone to be a friend, a husband, a wife, to win a prize, to be on somebody’s team.

Nobody gets left out in God’s kingdom. There are no kids who nobody picks for their team in God’s kingdom. We are all chosen by God and precious in His sight.

Through Jesus, God is always and everywhere saying to everyone of us, “I pick you.”

holy and dearly loved,

In the picking—the being chosen—we are made holy and called to be so—set apart for something special—made special and clean. When people come into a church they sometimes feel something and they say, “This is a holy place.” What they are saying is, “I feel the presence of God here.” To be holy because we are chosen by God means that others will sense the presence of God in us.

Dearly loved. Jesus said, “the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16.27) “For God so loved the world,” (John 3.16) including us. “You are precious and honored in my sight, and … I love you.” (Isa 43.4) God is love, writes John. The list goes on and on.

We are all chosen and much loved by God. Here’s where the New Year’s resolution comes in—we must accept the chosing. We must say, “Yes, Lord, I want to be on your team. Thank you for picking me.” And then we get a glove and get in the game because we are chosen to be players, not spectators.

There are all sorts of positions on this team; some in the church and some outside the church. Some players serve coffee and tea at funeral lunches. Some clean the church. Some teach our children. Some pray for us. Some serve as priests. Sometimes we’re tempted to treat some players as stars, but we’re really all of equal value. The most valuable player is Jesus.

I mentioned getting a glove and getting in this game. Here’s a good glove for 2007…

clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Put on love. If I am the best player in the world, the most spiritual, the most regular attender at church, the best Anglican, the best singer, but have not love, “I am nothing,” wrote Paul in 1 Cor 13. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Cloth yourselves—put on the glove. It will feel a little stiff and awkward at first so it will need to be worn in. That means wearing it a lot, practising and practising so, bit by bit, it fits our hand like a glove, oiling it to make the leather soft as we are compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another, forgiving and, above all, loving one another.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

How do we let the peace of Jesus rule in our hearts? Worship as members of the one body, our church, and pray—how about at least 7 minutes a day for 2007 using your bulletin?

And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

The only way to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly is to read it, put on our glove, get in the game and do our best to play the position in which Jesus has placed us.

17And 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.