My friend tells the story of his son, age 5, who was asked by his favorite aunt to be the Ring Bearer at her upcoming wedding.
The Ring Bearer is very important! she said. For he is the one who carefully carries the wedding ring down the aisle and delivers it safely to the groom. It would make her so happy if he’d say yes?
His beloved aunt was most convincing – but no – as much as he adored her he really didn’t want to do that.
Perplexed, his parents gently nudged him to reconsider, and eventually, their tender-hearted son agreed to perform the role of Ring Bearer when the big day arrived.
Months passed, and a few days before the wedding, as my friends were driving home from church, a small voice from the backseat inquired when they would be arranging to pick up the bear suit?
Pick up what? his dad said, straining to see the face of his little boy in the review mirror. The bear suit for the wedding, he said. When do we pick up the bear suit so I can be the Ring Bear?
Only then did his parents realize that all this time their son assumed he was to carry his aunt’s ring down the church aisle dressed up as a bear. In his young mind, come that fateful wedding day, he was going to don a bear outfit and humiliate himself in front of hundreds of watching people.
And yet he was willing. He was willing to put on a bear suit for the love and glory of his aunt. What precious love is that?
The lectionary readings this week were from Colossians, in which Paul encourages God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, to put on what might make them feel as strange and vulnerable as being asked to wear a bear outfit to a wedding.
Put on humility, Paul says. Put on gentleness, meekness, and compassionate hearts. Put on forbearance, and a sincere willingness to forgive. And then, so beautifully dressed in the nature of Christ, humbly carry God’s shalom to the watching world with joy.
And yet as much as we love God, we are reluctant to show up in life wearing only that because it will cost us something – at the very least our pride.
Until we remember that’s what Jesus did. God’s son took off his heavenly arraignments and willingly became vulnerable and human; he humbled himself in every way for the love and glory of his Father. What precious love is that?!
So put on my compassion and carry God’s mercy, Christ invites his people. Put on my meekness and carry God’s forgiveness and truth. Put on my love and carry forth my Father’s desire that none should perish.
Shalom today Ring Bears. For you’ve been invited to clothe yourselves in Christ and carry God’s wedding vows – his covenant blessing – to the watching world with joy.