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Announcing 2015-16 theme: "Clothed with Compassion"

By Peter Hanson, Lead PastorClothedwithCompassion-graphic

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

Our theme for the program year 2015-16 is “Clothed with Compassion,” drawn from the above passage from Paul’s letter to the one of the early churches in Colossae. His words to them are important reminders to us, too. Since we have also been chosen to take part in God’s mission in the world, we share these same values that Paul calls on the Colossians to uphold: to show compassion to others, to speak kindly to one another, to practice humility and meekness, and to cultivate patience as the world continues to change and we continue to mature in our faith.

One of the great things about both this theme and the verse it comes from is that the active verb is “clothe,” or more precisely “to clothe yourself.” Every day—and sometimes several times a day—we actively put on our clothes, making choices about which outfit to wear, what goes best with what, what will others be wearing wherever we may be going. Sometimes this is rather automatic; people whose work or school requires a uniform or a strict dress code have few choices in what they wear. Sometimes, though, we take tons of time to decide on what to wear; we fuss over what our clothes communicate to others, whether we’ve worn the same thing too often, or if people will like what they see in our clothes. For better or worse, this Bible passage speaks to us about a daily activity we know well.

The Message (a Bible paraphrased in everyday English) translates the verse this way: “Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you.” I like that. 

Thinking of these characteristics that God is calling on us to exhibit—compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience—we can imagine them as an outfit God picked for us, like a parent might lay out clothes for a child the night before a big event. These are our go-to outfits, as people chosen to do God’s work with our hands. God calls us over and over to clothe ourselves with compassion.


Clothing ourselves in the tapestry

Last year, we drew on the image of being woven together into God’s great tapestry of love. United in our diversity, we come together to create something—something beautiful—that is greater than the sum of its parts. This year, we imagine taking that tapestry of God’s love and clothing ourselves with it, putting on the outfit that God has picked out for us.

We clothe ourselves with compassion every time we reach out to someone in need, whether a world away or right next door.

We clothe ourselves with humility and meekness whenever we put the common good ahead of our own interests or agendas.

We clothe ourselves with patience when we take to time to see how God is at work in our midst, when we trust that God’s timing may not be our own, and when we accept that it may take time for God to transform us into something new.

There will be many ways for us to think about this theme as the new year unfolds: sermon series during the month of September, t-shirts in which we can clothe ourselves quite literally (see below), perhaps even a new theme song to sing throughout the year.

2015-2016Theme-banner

How else might we—as individuals and as a congregation—clothe ourselves in compassion? I invite you to share your ideas with me and with other leaders here at CtK.

Article originally published in the September 2015 issue of The Herald. Read the complete issue

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