September 4, 2005
16th Sunday after Pentecost
"Who Do You Put On?"
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
A little young girl walked into the bathroom one day while Mom was putting on make-up and announced, "I'm going to look just like you mommy!"
"Maybe, when you grow up," Mom told her.
"No mommy, tomorrow. I just put on that 'Oil of Old Lady' you always use." (1)
It's pretty obvious that we all get up in the morning, get cleaned up and put on clothes. On Sundays, out of reverence for God, we try to dress in our best. When we go tot work, we dress for success. If we're single going out on a date or even hanging with friends, we dress to impress. Often times, when we dress, we put on a persona. We get that power tie, or dress in business casual. How we dress says a lot about who we are.
That's the reason for the question this morning, ""Who Do You Put On?" You see, even Christians need to think about how they dress. Let's look at the passage from Romans to see what Paul has to say about dressing for success as a Christians.
Romans 13:8-14 (NRSV)
 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet"; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers;
 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;
 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.
 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ"
Putting On is not necessarily a good thing. We know people who are never straight with us. They don't know who they really are. They are constantly "putting us on" trying to be something they're not. Sometimes it's seen as "putting on airs." Sometimes it's seen as "putting on an act." Whatever we call it, we usually recognize it right away.
In the Mel Brooks movie Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, there's a great scene where young Dr. Frankenstein has created his "creature" and he is introducing the scientific community to his discoveries. He does so with a song and dance routine starring none other than he and the "creature." Dressed in tux and tails, they begin dancing to "Putting on the Ritz." Of course, everything goes wrong and even though the "creature" is dressed like a Broadway star, he's still a monster.
The problem was that all Dr. Frankenstein did was dress up the outside. Inside, the creature was still the monster, with Abby Normal's brain.
A. Paul says we have to clothe ourselves in Christ. We have to get dressed in Jesus. There's an old story about a little girl who listened intently to the preacher's sermon about letting Jesus live in our hearts. After worship she asked him, "Preacher, I'm such a little girl and Jesus is so big, if Jesus lived in my heart, wouldn't he be sticking out some place?"
That's the whole point. Some of us actually put on Christ, others simply "put us on" about having put on Christ. They only wear the outer garb. Putting on Christ means dressing from the inside out. We not only have let Jesus live in our hearts, we have to wrap our hearts in his love and presence. Then Christ will stick out in everything we do.
Putting on Christ means living for Him, living from the inside out.
B. Let me tell you how some of us are doing that since Katrina.
Gulf Port, Mississippi
The Rev. Ray Stokes, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, rode out the storm in Gulf Port, MS, and is now reaching out to others there as well. With no electricity, and no water he and members of his church who are still in Gulf Port are feeding hundreds using their church's gas stove. They are receiving relief supplies that are helping them feed the people who come by each day for food. Through word of mouth people are finding out how to have a hot lunch at this local United Methodist Church. On Thursday, they fed approximately 300 people.
Local Church Offers Sanctuary by Mary Beth Coudal
In a small church a couple of hours west of New Orleans in Lafayette, LA, Immanuel United Methodist Church has made good on The United Methodist church's promise to open doors and open hearts.
Kathleen Carter Conrad, a member of the Board of Directors of the Women's Division and the General Board, reported that this church of 150 members has taken in 27 evacuees from New Orleans, 18 of whom are children and one of whom is a United Methodist Woman.
"Local members of the congregation have been taking the evacuees into their homes so they can bathe and get a meal. And we are feeding them three meals a day from our food pantry. They are sleeping in Sunday School classrooms and our sanctuary. It's a faith journey. We've never done anything like this before," said Ms. Conrad.
When spirits are low, said Conrad, "We try to keep them encouraged. They're all saying they're so glad to be here, thanks for opening the doors.
Conrad praises the many kindnesses within the church community – the women who are donating meals and clothing. "The hands are just reaching out. We are all just coming together. We're already together in Christ. And it's a good experience for our church. We really are sisters and brothers. It makes a world of difference," said Conrad, whose husband Rev. Clifton Conrad, Sr. is the church's pastor.
Among the 18 displaced children, all have enrolled in local schools in Lafayette. The school workers informed the families that the children will be provided uniforms, school supplies and emergency food stamps.
Houston Community Center Prepared for "Refugees"
Mike Shirl, director of Wesley Community Center in Houston, reports that he is working locally to plan for "refugees" coming in from New Orleans. He expects broad collaboration among local agencies, including the Untied Way, in responding to the crisis. The center itself already has an infrastructure (including the appropriate licenses) that allows it to provide food, clothing, child care, senior care, after school programs and hot meals at multiple sites, if necessary.
Mr. Shirl said that Wesley is ready to cooperate with the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the Texas Annual Conference in any ways it can.
Wesley Community Center in Houston is a national mission institutional related to the General Board of Global Ministries.
Arkansas Annual Conference
The Arkansas Annual Conferences is mobilizing United Methodist churches and camps to reach out to the tens of thousands of displaced people currently residing in Arkansas and for those yet to arrive. The conference is working with the governor's office in offering shelter and getting buses to New Orleans for the evacuation happening there.
Pat Bodenhamer, Conference Minister with Mission in Outreach is organizing much of the effort. Churches and Camps are already helping people displaced in the state. "If people see a Louisiana license plate, they will stop and ask how they can help." One camp in the annual conference is already open to displaced people and five more are ready to accept people as a long-term place of residence.
Texas Annual Conference
The Texas Annual Conference is participating in the effort to host refugees in the Astrodome as well as in other areas.
The Lakeview Methodist Camp is hosting 107 adults with mental disabilities from a New Orleans Home.
Lon Morris Junior College, a United Methodist-related institution in Jacksonville, TX, is taking in freshman and sophomore students from Dillard University one of our predominantly black United Methodist Universities, in New Orleans. The Dillard students will be able to continue their education at Lon Morris free of charge and without disruption while New Orleans recovers from Hurricane Katrina.
Centenary College is doing the same thing for 250 Dillard Students
Dillard was only UM institution to suffer from Katrina
SMU has students over a 100 from Tulane.
You see we don't just wear this robe of faith on Sunday Mornings. We can't put it on during worship like a choir robe and take it off before we leave like our name tag. We have to put on Christ. Not just the outward appearance of a Christian, but the heart of Christ. We have to put on Christ from the inside out. So Jesus sticks out all over the place in our life.
Don't make a big show of it. Just let the Spirit of Christ, lead your life. Cloth yourself in a Christ like life and a Christ like compassion for others. And do so because you know God is with us every day. Jesus is with us every day. We're called to help others see Jesus. We're called to be the lens that allows others to focus on Christ.
Every health kit, every meal, every bottle of water sent or distributed in the name of Christ, every prayer spoken or prayed, every dollar sent for aid, every drop of medicine or minute of physical help that is given is one more way to help us focus our lens so others can see Christ in the midst of this tragedy.
We can't just put on a mask and look like Christians, we have to wrap ourselves completely in Christ so others will know Christ is present in the midst of every aspect of life, especially tragedies like Hurricane Katrina. We need to let Christ use us to fill others with hope.
God never leaves us. God is right there in the midst of the search and rescue efforts, the efforts to bring aid of every kind. God's heart has broken for every family involved, for every person hurt or lost. God's heart is broken but God is there, Christ is there. And you and I are the hands and feet of Christ in the world today.
A mother with two young children put them to bed and went to prepare herself for bed. She put on some old clothes and went to the bathroom. She washed her hair and wrapped a towel around her head to dry her hair. She applied cold cream on her face to remove her makeup. Just as she was about to wipe off the cream, she heard the noise of her children playing in their room. She stormed into the room, hollered and told her two small children to get back into bed, reminded them that it was time to sleep, turned out the light and slammed the door. As she left the room, one of the children, with a trembling voice, asked the other, "Who was that?" (2)
We don't want others asking, "Who was that?" when they look at our lives. We want others to know who it is who lives in our lives. We want Jesus sticking out all over place.
This morning as you come to the Lord's Table, receive the forgiveness God offers through Christ. Come to this all you can eat buffet of God's Grace and not only feast upon the grace, mercy and forgiveness God offers but leave the rags of the world behind and clothe yourself in Christ.
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ today.
1. E-Zine: Bill's Punch Line, adapted
2. The Pastor's Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), MAY 1993
www.SermonWriter.com (Copyright, Richard Niell Donovan, 2000)
www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermon.html (Richard Fairchild Lectionary Resources)
Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)
Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)
Dynamic Preaching, (Seven Worlds Publishing, Knoxville, TN)
The Clergy Journal, (Logos Productions, Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN)
Preaching Magazine (Preaching Resources, Jackson, TN)
Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)
The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)
The New Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)
Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 2002) SermonPrep Version.
Preaching the Miracles, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1998) SermonPrep Version.
Preaching the Parables, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1997) SermonPrep Version.