Monday, January 7, 2013

Sundee Best

"Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out
Strut down the street and have your picture took
Dressed like a dream your spirits seem to turn about
That Sunday shine is a certain sign
That you feel as fine as you look!
Beneath your parasol, the world is all a smile
That makes you feel brand new down to your toes
Get out your feathers
Your patent leathers
Your beads and buckles and bows
For there's no blue Monday in your Sunday clothes!"

~ Hello Dolly

I laugh every time I hear this song. The song is part of a big dance scene from the Broadway/motion picture filled with fantastically-dressed dancers strutting around in as gussied-up glamour as one could possibly imagine! 

Dressing in your "Sunday Best" has been an old adage for years; our grandmothers' culture knew exactly what it meant. I find it sad that Sunday Best seems to be a dying idea. The days of washing gloves, pressing handkerchiefs, shining shoes, and trimming hats seem to be long gone, but why have they left, when did they start, and should we care?

Laura Ingalls Wilder and girls like her had two dresses -- three if they were incredibly blessed. One would be for everyday tasks and playing, the other saved for Sundays spent at church and special socials. Girls were not the only ones who had special attire, but mothers, fathers, and sons all had special items of clothing only meant for Sunday. Saving special garments for Sunday or spiffing yourself up was not a new idea to the Ingalls. You might have even found Pilgrims cleaning off their faces and washing their aprons before a service together. Is being concerned with our appearance a sign that we only care about what others think, or does God ask this of us?

He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on.
Leviticus 16:4

God gave Moses very specific instructions regarding the tent of meeting and what the priest should wear, and when it should be worn. These set-apart holy garments showed the people a glimpse of God's holiness and reminded the priest of his sacred duty. Fast forward to the early church. The Bible doesn't speak about a Sunday Best, but it has an awful lot to say about giving our best to the Lord and honoring Him in all that we do.

Now I know what you're thinking.
"What about people who can't afford nice clothing for church?"

Well, you know, a similar problem arose in the early church.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. 

 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 
James 2:1-6, 8-9, 12

As told here, we have some classic brown-nosing. I wish I could say this is not an issue in the church today, but it is. Oftentimes, we look for personal gain with people who "look" like they have prestige and wealth, but as said above, how can we judge when we are unable to choose who will inherit God's kingdom? If we are attending church to gain rich friends or to be the center of attention, we need to be doing some serious repenting. Going to church with a community of believers is NOT our personal fashion show runway.

Going to worship God with others is very special. In fact, it's one of the most special things we do. I think it's wonderful that we do show differences in clothing when attending church. It shows our continual celebration of Christ and how we long to give Him our best.

So back to the question above: "What about people who can't afford nice clothing for church?" So let's define nice. If you mean nice by the latest $250 dress in the window of Anthropologie, then I'm sorry, you will find few who can meet that standard. 

I belive in bests, so if you only have two teeshirts and one has stains and the other doesn't, then wear the non-stained one. If you have a choice of sweatpants over a skirt, choose the skirt. It's not about being the most fashionably hip, it's about bringing your best to the Lord. If you are feeling judgment from others in the church, don't feel down -- they will have to answer to the Lord. The important task is to first consider what Christ thinks about you before you consider what others think.

So put on your Sundee Best, Ladies -- whether it's just a fresh bath and washed jeans or a pressed dress trimed in lace. Celebrate with me, for Christ is risen from the dead and we are children of the King!

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