(Permission has been granted to use the following story).
A friend of mine shared on her Facebook page a self-described rant about how her daughter was treated following a church worship service.
Her “apparel” was judged to be inappropriate and so someone took it upon him/herself to TELL her that she should change.
“Take off your sweater,” he/she said.
“Why? Is something wrong with it?”
The person replied, “You shouldn’t wear lace to church.”
OH MY GOSH . . . . lace?
When I hear things like that I think, “If this person were to darken the doors of West they’d have us all condemned for heresy.”
On one of the “preview” Sundays (we were doing dry runs of “worship” before we opened for the public), the launch team all decided to wear pajamas to demonstrate that “all meant all” – even if you come in your pajamas. No one asked me if I cared if they came in their pajamas, they just decided to “surprise” me.
Well, I was surprised.
I agonized over being comfortable preaching with jeans on before we launched. I was so used to wearing dresses, heels, and the preacher robe every Sunday. To start wearing jeans felt disrespectful to me.
Until I read in the book Pagan Christianity that dressing up for church began in the late 18th century in concordance with the Industrial Revolution and was widespread by the 19th century. Before this time “dressing up” for events was ONLY for the wealthy and was a direct way to distinguish between the social classes. “Common folks” only had two sets of clothes, one for labor/work and one for going “into town.”
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, STRONGLY encouraged NOT dressing “up” for church. He wrote against wearing flashy or fancy clothing and the early Methodists (and Baptists) went to the OTHER extreme and turned away anyone that was dressed “too fancy.”
It seems crazy to me that in 2019 we still spend a lot of time and energy around what people “wear” to church.
What if it is about what people feel comfortable with? What if we make it not about “checking each other out” and what we look like and instead focus on engaging in worship in such a way we connect to The Divine.
If we’d do that, we probably would give a crap less if someone had on lace, showed their mid-riff, had on camo pants, jeans, or heaven forbid showed their bra strap. (I’ve heard criticism for that . . . and just fyi – that wasn’t intentional, the darn thing just slipped out!)
This week we will focus on “Daring to be a difference maker.”
Maybe that can start with saying affirming things to one another or just keeping our mouths shut.
I hope the 17 year old reads ALL the affirmations she’s received on social media and processes them. She’s beautiful . . . she leads her local church beautifully . . . . even (or ESPECIALLY, actually) clad in lace!
By the way . . . we aren’t “good” just because we DRESS GOOD for God! Maybe our hearts and actions reflect our connection with the divine more than our apparel. Just sayin’.