By Francis Scott
Why do we wear our best clothes when we attend the worship services in church? At one time we referred to our clothes as “everyday” clothes and “Sunday” clothes. The reason was because we saved our best wear for church. I remember as a child in the 1930s when I asked if I could wear a favorite shirt or coat, my mother would say “no, you must save that for Sunday.” Even during the tough years we had to wear clothes on Sunday that showed “excessive wear,” still the best was reserved for Sunday.
Sometimes the type clothing I had to wear was not at all to my liking, but it was considered the best clothing I owned. I recall at one time in my early youth when times were difficult, I had to wear “knickers,” which was short pants with a strap just below the knees. This was a “hand-me-down” from an older brother who was just too glad to pass them on to me. I still remember the embarrassment I experienced from wearing them and the harassment I got from my friends, but it was the best dress clothes I had. When attending church, my mother made sure we were properly dressed.
Nowadays, the dress code seems to be casual dress. In many instances the cry for casual dress is because of the excessive heat from the summer sun. It sounds a bit foolish when we leave an air conditioned home, ride to church in an air conditioned automobile, rush into an air conditioned building and then head back to the air conditioned home. Many churches are pressing the congregation to be more and more lax in their dress for worship. Many pastors are much more lax and advocating this for the parishioners.
Is this the avenue we should pursue? Why should we dress our best when attending church services? A more important question might be, why consider the dress code for church or for whom do we dress when entering the house of God?
I don’t believe we, as a congregation and even as church leaders, really consider the seriousness of entering a building dedicated to the worship of the holy God. The church building has been dedicated as the house God occupies in a special way in the community and when we enter, whether we recognize it or not, he is present; he is aware of our presence; he is aware of our every thought, word or deed while in his temple, as well as how we respect him in how we are dressed - yes, how we are dressed.
We are telling God how much we reverence him by the way we dress as clearly as when we receive the communion. Perhaps we thought our dress code was to impress those around us or to show that we aren’t poor. Perhaps we thought that God was not interested in how we dress, that only those around us noticed. When we enter God’s holy temple, we are in the immediate presence of the Holy Spirit and Jesus, the Son of God, as much as we are in the presence of our neighbor. Our greatest concern should be how he sees our heart, but be not deceived — he is aware of how we dress, from the pulpit to the very back pew. It is so easy to lower the standard but so difficult to raise it back. Let’s not forget the reverence we owe to our holy and righteous God when we enter his holy temple.
Jesus is there and he is real. Dress to please him — not others or ourselves.
Scott is a resident of Hurley and attends