12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
New International Version (NIV)
These verses from Colossians bring to mind bundling up to go out on a cold winter’s day.
First a T-shirt, one that’s probably old with maybe a hole or two or a stubborn spaghetti sauce stain that insists on becoming permanent, reminding me to be thankful that I have enough food to eat – and to be humble. And it will be hidden, reminding me not to display my “humility” in public to announce what a “good” Christian I am.
Then comes a turtleneck, soft to the skin, reminding me to be gentle with others even if I’m irritated with someone or something – and these days, I find that I often am. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Perhaps I should make myself wear a turtleneck all the time.
On next, a sweater and a warm coat and a hat, for which I am very thankful. But – do I really need all the sweaters, coats and hats I have? How many can I wear at once? Who can use what I don’t? Where is my compassion? Note to self: Sort out closet – and stop procrastinating!
Then patience as I struggle a bit to put on gloves and boots over arthritic hands and feet, and thankfulness as I remind myself that I am still vertical by the grace of God.
A reminder to be kind comes in the form of the scarves folks tie around trees downtown for those who need them, or the extra gloves in a coat pocket in case we see someone with bare hands, or the socks in the basket in the narthex. And we all give thanks for these acts of kindness.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” But just how do we do this, “put on love over all these virtues”? Maybe that’s the toughest one to symbolize. Is it outermost, an invisible mantle that settles over us as we reach for the doorknob to go out into the winter cold? Or does it come from within, penetrating the layers we’ve donned and radiating into the universe? Or is it just there, wherever we happen to be, something we can’t see but others can? God only knows…
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Amen.
Kelly Brest van Kempen