Theology Behind “Dress Us Up” by Dr. John Hurtgen

Note from John Mark:

In keeping with my theme of resurrection, today I’m posting commentary of my song “Dress Us Up” by Dr. John Hurtgen of Campbellsville University.

I love how Dr. Hurtgen can move from lighthearted banter to plumbing depths within in a single line.  Loved this and I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did.


Dress Us Up Commentary 

Dress Us Up:  words by John Mark McMillan . . . other words by John Hurtgen, Dean, School of Theology, Campbellsville University ( &!/cutheology)

Dress us up in your righteousness:   ever since Eden—and the failed fashion show—Adams and Eves have been trying to dress themselves in clothes to impress the Maker.  The prints always clash, colors ever condemning, tree-leaf briefs not quite permanent press.  The Maker dressed Adam and Eve once.  Animal skins, blood shed for life clothes (Gen. 3:21).  But we didn’t take the hint.  Outside Eden:  same prints, same colors, same tree leaves.  Until the Maker’s Son had his garments shed from him, and from Jesus’ crucifixion the Tailor made clothes that were just right, just righteous.  Dress us up in those clothes, God.
Bring us in with a ring and a kiss:  the son who squandered, who lost everything (Luke 15:11-32), never had a thought that his father would place a ring on his finger (the equivalent of handing his broken son a new credit card), nor that the affection of his father—in the form of a kiss—would ever again be his.  Authority (ring) and Affection (kiss) from the gracious God who loves to give, we can dare ask this Father, “bring us in.”
When you walk into the room you know we can’t resist:  the sad fact is that sometimes Jesus does walk into the room, has even been invited there (Luke 7:36), but no bottle of perfume wasted . . . and, even better(?), no mess on the floor.  Yet Jesus knows when the heart is civil, and definitely when the heat is not right.  He tells the story of two people, two debts, two inabilities to pay, two debts graciously canceled:  “Who do you suppose loved him more than that?” (Luke 7:41-42).  Just think about the massive debt (personal, relational, Godward) that you and I have been forgiven.  When he walks into the room, we can’t resist, no matter the cost, no matter the smell.
Every bottle of perfume always ends up on the floor in a mess:  Broken.  Most things work best that way (2 Cor. 12:8-10).  The crucifixion itself was another bottle of perfume poured out.  The bottle broken, the fragrance released.

You make us sparkle and you make us shine:  as in the first line (“dress us up”), there are things we just can’t do for ourselves.  He makes us sparkle and shine, only because of what’s on the inside.  “We have this treasure in jars of clay . . . so that everyone can see that the glorious power is from God and not our own” (2 Cor. 4:7).  Even clay sparkles and shines, if you heat it up enough.

Like the stars who sing on your chorus line:  everything shines, everything has its own glory (doxa, Grk.).  Sun, moon, and stars all shine in different ways, each with their own glory (1 Cor. 15:40-41).  There is no greater affirmation than this:  God is both Creator and Re-Creator, Designer and Re-Designer.  The same God who sent his Son is the same God (and Son) who placed each star on the chorus line.  The Star Song Revue has showtimes each and every night (Psalm 19:2).
Through space and time we’ll harmonize: 
A nice take on an old hymn text:  “Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above Join with all nature in manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love” (“Great is Thy Faithfulness,” 1923).  The nice twist is we get to sing right along, harmonize even, with sun, moon, stars.  Of all places, the Book of Revelation teaches us about the “four part harmony”:  “And then I heard every creature (1) in heaven and (2) on earth and (3) under the earth and (4) in the sea.  They sang:  ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever’” (Rev. 5:13).

Where deep meets deep like the ocean meets the sky:  “no, no line on the horizon” (U2)?  Deep meets deep, mystery beyond our limited minds.  Voices merge, unity in the universal chorus.  Everyone knows the words.

The sun and the moon
They come out of their grave just for you:
  Without the sun, the moon has no light.  Look for the moon during the “new moon” phase.  It’s there, but unilluminated (“It’s not that the colors aren’t there/It’s just imagination they lack,” Paul Simon).  In creation, the greater and the lesser, the sun and moon.  That’s just the order in re-creation, the greater and the lesser:  the Son and the many lesser satellites, who derive their light from the Son.  Jesus first up out of the grave (Col. 1:18); and then the “lesser lights” will come out of their grave just for the great God who breathes new life into them.
The dead man and the cynical too
They’re coming out of their grave:
  The gospel is not about us having a hard time swimming in the storms of life and Safeguard Jesus throwing the life-line.  Grab the rope and hold on tight!  Well, a lot of life is like that.  But the gospel is about “sinking deep” in the waters of sin (think Mafia and concrete shoes), and Jesus taking the dead man, the dead women and working the miracle of second birth.  One
And it’s just for you: 
for who else?  Soli deo gloria

Cause the love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
Than the power of death: 
God is love.  All you need is . . . God.  Paul says that there is nothing more powerful than the power of God, his love, his wisdom.  And how wise he is.  He uses the weak, foolish, despised things of the world to show his strength (1 Cor. 1:27-28).  “Watch this,” God says.  I am going to take a crucified, Jewish, itinerant, charismatic rabbi (from the sticks), and I am going to lay the foundation stone for a whole new world.  Many have stumbled over this stone.  Yet, the dead man and cynic too have found life, light, love in him.

Dress us up in the blood of a son:  denizens of the twenty-first century may have hard time with this line?  But we live in the “Twilight” zone, where vampires roam and blood is life and life is blood.  And we still know, to the core, that deep stains aren’t easily removed, or are ignored to our own peril.  When God dresses us up in the blood of his Son, two things happen.  First, our sins are forgiven.  Blood usually is a tough stain to remove, but Jesus’ blood removes the stain of sin.  We are forgiven!  Nothing like it (Rom. 4:7-8) . . . except to turn around and forgive someone else. 
Who opened up his veins so that we would overcome
Hell and the grave in the power of his love: 
Second, the dress up begins to overcome the sinful patterns of life, the ones that usually lead to hell and the grave.  Jesus showed us how it’s done, in life and in death and in resurrection.  The dress up is dress rehearsal for opening night, when kingdom comes.
After three dark days he showed us how it’s done
And he still does: 
Thank God for his patience.  He still does.

You make us sparkle and you make us shine
Like the stars who sing on your chorus line
Through space and time we’ll harmonize
Where deep meets deep like the ocean meets the sky
This word needs to be accepted into the Christian hymnal, right next to “amen.”

Cause the love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
Than the power of death

Blessed Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday!    John Hurtgen, Campbellsville University

  1. Lisa said:

    Lovin’ this! You should do it with all your songs!

  2. Melvin said:

    Dang, thanks for posting that. Super cool man! Oh hey did you ever think that your songs would move this generation so much?

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