SET THE TABLE
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:12-17)
Imagine this: Your home is cleaned from top to bottom. You can practically eat off the floor (but who would want to do that)! You put a smile on your face that says I think I am “Susie homemaker”, a Proverbs 31 woman in the making, not to mention you have planned the perfect dinner party, gourmet of course. You have been cooking all day. It is a dinner fit for a king — the King of Kings that is, because Jesus is coming! Your heart leaps. All you have left to do is make the table ready, and make yourself ready too. This is a dinner party where paper plates will not do. The best china must be brought out, and the chargers – those decorative plates underneath them all. You haven’t forgotten the silver candle sticks with the white candles lit in advance. These candles will give off the sweet aroma that draws the guest into your home to come and sit awhile, and to enjoy. You too must put on your Sunday best, dressed without stress in an outfit you already decided in advance. To me, the presentation is as important as cleaning the house and preparing the meal. Who wants to be fretting about setting the table or deciding what to wear just before your guest arrives? As my mom says, “You want to be a guest at your own dinner party.” You, like Mary, want to enjoy your guests and already be dressed.
There was the time I took a chance and went to daily mass in my gym clothes. I want to say I never did that before or since. I rushed into the church on Pleasant Home road, the old St. Teresa’s, and sat down with my seventh child on my lap and closed my eyes to pray. Mass began as and I looked back to give a smile to Father “D.” To my surprise, he was not walking in alone. Accompanying dear Father D was none other than the Bishop Kevin Boland. I was mortified. I don’t wear t-shirts. I was in tight leggings and a fitted tank top. I grabbed Sean close, and assisted at mass as an embarrassed parishioner, hiding my gym attire the best I could. “Never again,” became my motto. Now I always try to present myself as if I am going to welcome the king, after all that is why I am there, isn’t it?
This is the same way we are to prepare our hearts for Advent; clean and holy, hungry and thirsty for Him. If we put on Christ daily and accessorize with virtue, virtue will become a part of our character. Jesus will be at the center of our heart. It will be who we are and not just who we are trying to pretend to be. We want our hearts to be set apart for God alone and not just on Sunday. Are you the real deal, or fake news? Jesus will change you within as you spend time with Him.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given by God freely at Confirmation. They are God’s gifts to be poured out upon us as we become soldiers for God. The fruits of the Holy Spirit, just like the fruits we eat, must be grown. There is no magic wand, no “presto-change-o”; you must be patient! You must make a choice daily to practice if you want to overcome vice with virtue. As you choose patience, you grow patience. Likewise, choosing impatience grows impatience.
A virtuous woman is the one you want to open the door of your life to. As your friends are, so shall you be like them. No one likes a grumpy gal who has forgotten to put on joy that day. You can pray all you want for the fruits to God. God give me patience, QUICKLY! But to grow the fruit you have to walk it out. It is a journey. It takes time and it takes failure. If you focus on virtue eventually you will grow that fruit. Out of the abundance of your heart your mouth will speak. A word spoken in anger, jest or judgment cannot be deleted. You may have to eat the fruit of that word and it will probably give you “indigestion”.
Advent is a great time to practice virtue. My four prayer partners and I are working on a Virtue a month together. We are using the devotional, Spiritual Diary. “Each day we read this devotion then text on a four way text what we got from it, or how God used it in our life. Having a prayer partner who has your back and calls on you is better than a diet coach. You may not lose any pounds but you will be light enough to fly on the wings of eagles. As you lighten your load by leaving the baggage of sin, you are able to let virtue lead you upward to heaven.
It was almost time to welcome our eleventh grand baby. It was to be a girl named Audrey Love born on Valentine’s Day. The Roe family was visiting us at our home in Merritt Island, Florida. Patrick and I took the four grandchildren for a walk. I was walking with Emily and talking about the new baby, soon to arrive. I said, “So, Emily what shall I give your new baby sister to welcome her?” Without skipping a beat, Emily replied with eyes wide, “Nana, Accessorize!” It was on that day the tag line to my ministry Little Pink Dress Ministry was birthed. The tag line is, “Accessorize with virtue.” I tell women above all else, do not leave the house before you accessorize your heart with virtue. I encourage them with “by being beautiful on the inside, you become more beautiful on the outside.” This is done by putting on Christ. His light shines through you drawing others to Him.
We are all fashioned for God; so accessorize with virtue, guard your tongue, welcome your guest in your heart, in your home, in your lives, and always let them know Jesus lives there. What are you wearing? Do you need a heart check? Or, a new wardrobe? Put on joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Why not join us is practicing one virtue a month? Dress yourself with His character. Jesus is coming, are you ready to welcome Him? Make room for Him to come in.