Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor.
Every church is unique. Even if you had the same architect and the same builders and the same property size, churches are what they are because of people, and people are always different. Some churches value high liturgy and spend their Sunday services standing up, sitting down, kneeling, praying, singing, and listening. Others believe in the importance of contemporary music with big bands, projections screens, and coffee at the front door. Every church is unique.
Before I arrived at my current appointment I wondered about the uniqueness of this place. I pondered about their comfort with the hymnal, what expectations they had out of worship, and where they would be heading. Did they use the Lord’s Prayer? Did they affirm their faith with the Apostles’ Creed? etc. And I spent a good amount of time wondering how they dressed for church on Sundays.
I grew up in a church where ushers were required to wear ties on Sunday mornings. I have helped a church that expected men to wear full suits, and women to wear dresses for worship. And I have spent time at a church that if you weren’t wearing blue jeans, you were the odd one out. What people wear to church says a lot about what they expect from worship, and the kind of people they are hoping to attract.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover that the people at St. John’s arrive on Sundays in a great plethora of fashion. We have suits, dresses, khakis, jeans, flip-flops, yoga pants, and everything in between. No one is judged for what they wear (so long as they are wearing something).
Yet, a few weeks ago, a child from our congregation asked why I wear my “black dress” (clergy robe) on Sunday mornings. I shared that, for me, it is important for Sundays to be different than the rest of the week. I expect to discover something I can’t normally find on my own Monday-Saturday, and when I dress differently, it allows me to act like the Christian I really am in the first place. The little boy thought about my answer for a few moments and then said, “Well then, I think I should wear my Iron Man costume next week.”
The psalmist call us to “worship the Lord in holy splendor.” Whether we wear our suits and dresses or our clergy robes and comic-book costumes, we do so in hopes that we can live into the reality of what it means to be a disciple in the world today.
This week, let us reflect on how we worship the Lord in holy splendor. Would changing our outfits for Sundays change the ways we worship? How can we better reflect what it means to follow Christ through our clothing, our words, and our actions?