Right after Thanksgiving I watch as the Christmas decorations and the ladders come out and the outside lighting laboriously created usually in the snow and ice. The church decorations come out and the work of decorating for Advent and Christmas goes on.
There is a small town not far away from me where a gentlemen turned an old building into a Christmas store. It was a fascinating concept. Year-round he would sell Christmas decorations and other things, but it appeared to me that he made his living by making Christmas trees on demand. He would make them at your request and with some of your ideas in mind, or he would make Christmas trees and people would come in and buy them. He would come to your house and set them up and some of them were on revolving stands so that you stand and look at the Christmas tree and every few seconds you had a different view of the different decorations and ornamentation put on them. Some were multicolored; some one color with varied decorations. Some were more traditional and some were quite outlandish. He advertised them as being richly ornamented and ornately decorated, and they were.
There is a word that occurs only once in the New Testament. It occurs in Ephesians were Paul was talking about the plan of God and he calls it manifold, the manifold plan of God. In our English translations one word is trying to describe an entire concept of what Paul was trying to express the plan of God being. This is Ephesians 3:10 – 10His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to the eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.…
The adjective form of this word that Paul uses is in the Greek translation of the Old Testament which describes the coat that Joseph’s father gave him that made his brothers so angry. We have a lot of descriptions of it. The coat of many colors, Josephs amazing Technicolor dream coat as some have called it. Some commentators describe it is simply an ornately woven long coat that made Joseph look like a king compared to the laboring outfits that his brothers wore. Whatever it looked like another translation of the coat of many colors would be richly ornamented and ornately decorated.
The Gospel, justification, the plan of God is richly ornamented and ornately decorated. This is hard to say without being judged wrongly but it seems to me that we have reduced it to the forgiveness of sins. It is the central doctrine of the Christian faith that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and it is immensely, eternally important and yet what difference does it make in a world that has done away with sin? How can we get back to asking questions that have Christ as the answer? We need to reengage the richly ornamented and ornately decorated plan of God, in a world that wants quick fixes and everything done lightening fast. Paul says the plan was hidden for ages. Now it revealed in the church and through the church and the plan basically is the church.