As a child, I loved having a new outfit for Easter. Not only would I have a new dress, but also a new hat and “spring coat,” and matching purse and shoes. As a teenager, I would make a special shopping trip to Downtown Pittsburgh with Mother for our outfits, and as a young mother I made sure our girls were appropriately dressed for the important day. Granted, this tradition included a fair measure of vanity, as illustrated by the old song, “Easter Parade.” (You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.”) Still, I see some value in dressing to honor a celebration, and what greater cause for celebration than the Resurrection?
The tradition of new outfits for Easter has faded in recent years, aside from frilly dresses for the youngest celebrants. This year, most celebrations may take place virtually. No one will know if we’re wearing a designer outfit or our pajamas! This compels us to look more closely at our spiritual clothing—the garments of genuine and lasting significance.
But before we look at what we should put on, we need to think about what we take off. Have you ever dreamed that you showed up to class in your fuzzy slippers? I have! Yet not once have I forgotten to take off my pajamas before donning my Easter outfit! In the same way, in spiritual dressing, we first need to properly unclothe ourselves.
Colossians 3 offers specific directions for both undressing and redressing. Verse 5 begins with a list of things that we need to take off: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. We may feel these extreme characteristics do not apply to us. But the list gets more personal: anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying. Can any of us say none of these have ever applied to us? Paul tells us to take off these parts of our old self.
Once we’ve gotten undressed, we’re ready to put on our new selves. These clothes include compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and love. And to complete the outfit, we allow Christ’s peace to rule in our hearts and are thankful as we teach and admonish one another, all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Easter, with its promise of new and eternal life, provides a good occasion to check our spiritual clothing. During Lent, we review aspects of our old natures that we need to take off. Once properly undressed, we look at the list of things we can put on. What do you want to emphasize this Easter? A renewed desire to focus on kindness or compassion? God’s help in being more patient with others?
This season provides a special opportunity to let the peace of God rule in our hearts (v. 15). With COVID-19 dominating every news cycle and every conversation, we need inner peace more than ever. The verse does not tell us to be peaceful—something we have to work at—but to let God’s peace rule. This act of submission allows God’s peace to flow into our lives.
May you find peace and share joy as you dress up for Easter this year!