Saturday, December 23, 2023

A New Set of Clothes

[Originally published in the Monroe News on December 22, 2023]

It's almost Christmas time and so that means we're all thinking about new clothes right? I mean isn't that what every person is the most excited to see in one of those boxes under the Christmas tree? Okay, maybe not. I know when I was a kid I dreaded the idea of seeing one of those rectangular boxes that looked like they were from a department store that surely must have had clothes in it. New clothes were the last thing I would have wanted for Christmas as a young kid. I'm not entirely sure that has changed since I've become an adult. Although, I will confess I may have a new pair of dress pants on the list this year.

On the other hand, there are some fun aspects of clothing around this Christmas time. Surely we all must love the new fad of the ugly Christmas sweater. There's some joy in delighting in different styles and trends and fun as we relate clothing to one another at this time of year. There might also be the mothers who love to get beautiful Christmas outfits to dress their children in to make them look wonderful for Christmas pageants and family gatherings. I’ve even heard of couples and entire families who are into the matching Christmas pajamas thing.  So maybe clothes and Christmas really can go together quite well.

There is another reason many among us might truly be interested in new clothes at Christmas especially with the new year right around the corner. There is something special about getting a new outfit, perhaps even a whole new wardrobe of clothes, that can really bring a new season to one's life. As many of us contemplate what the new year will hold for us The idea of a fresh start or a big change might be enticing. Often a new set of clothes is a part of that. Consider how many new students love to have a new look for the start of a school year. How many new workers love to have a new outfit to begin a new job. There's something special and refreshing about newness in our look. It's almost as if we can become a new person and start over.

I shared a message at my congregation recently about newness and clothing. We were talking about the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. His father Jacob had shown his love and favor for him with that beautiful coat of many colors. Some of you might know this story from the popular musical “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat”.  After receiving the coat from his father Joseph's story took a turn for the worse. Out of great jealousy his brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. He ended up in an Egyptian prison and was forgotten for many years. Then the story turns again, Joseph interprets a dream for the King of Egypt and is exalted and given authority over all the land of Egypt. Then his brothers come begging for food. 

What was Joseph to do with these brothers who had been so harsh and terrible to him? Well long story short, he feeds them and he gives them a new set of clothes. This amazing gesture is a sign from Joseph to his brothers that they have a fresh start together. He has forgiven them and shown them mercy.  Its as if their old sins against him have been covered up by these new coverings.

The New Testament speaks of Jesus’ relationship with all mankind in similar terms. Where we are all like the brothers of Joseph, full of sin and anger, hatred and jealousy, Jesus shows nothing but love and mercy towards us in return.  He even offers us “new clothes” to put on.  This is the role baptism and faith plays in our lives. Baptism is a new beginning through water and the Word of God. It means we are born again into a life in which the Spirit of God flows through us.  It means we have “put on” Christ and are covered in His perfect righteousness.  In baptism it is as if a whole new wardrobe has been given us that we might live in the grace and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.

Certainly a lot to think about as we look ahead to the Christmas holiday and a new year.  I know this is a difficult time of year for most of us.  Whether we are dealing with the baggage of the past, the stresses and pressures of the present, or we’re just trying to avoid getting sick.  It can be difficult to put on that smile and to feel as if we can or should be rejoicing every day.  Its okay whatever you may be feeling.  Our emotions should never be forced.

Maybe what is needed, for each of us, is a fresh start, a new set of clothes.  Perhaps you will ask Santa for a new outfit to start out the new year.  A new look might serve us well!  But I have to warn you, if your new look is only about physical clothes, that fresh feeling will wear off pretty quickly.  Instead, let me invite you to find a fresh look and a new life that will never wear out in Jesus.  Take time this Christmas holiday to gather around His gifts in worship in a Christian church.  Spend some time with your Savior in His Word or find a Bible Study to attend, or at the very least, join with Him in prayer. Jesus is full of rest and grace and unending love for you and that is a promise that will never end!

To God be the glory.

Mark Witte is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.
You can contact him at

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