Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Formal Dress Not Required

Have you ever wondered where our dress codes come from and what they are? I found a web site the other day dedicated to telling the dress codes for occasions in different countries. Some suggest that these codes are set by each society or sub group in a society, in part to make a statement or to set themselves apart in some way. One thing that is clear is that these codes change with time.

Not so long ago a City of London business person was expected to wear smart business clothes, often a suit of  some sort. Today on a commuter train into London you will see all sorts of dress styles on business folks, casual is becoming more popular, smart less so. The other day I heard a radio report that in a recent survey a large percentage of women thought that wearing jeans to the office and even to weddings was perfectly OK.

I have to say that for weddings I still dress up a little and for my graduation from Spurgeon's college in London recently I wore a more formal outfit with a bow tie (I often wore these when in business). Perhaps a reflection of having, like many of my generation, to wear a school uniform - the great leveler of children and so wanting to be different.

My grand daughter was not as impressed with my gear as she might have been, but then she was the centre of attention for all of my family.

What about church going folks, is there a dress code, how do you know what it is and do you need to follow it? Well the answers is yes, no and maybe or maybe not. Certainty there is something of the wearing Sunday best culture in many Churches and for some it is an opportunity to dress up. However for others who wear more formal clothes all week they prefer to dress down and wear casual clothes. When I was in the Congo they tended to dress up and in fact liked the preacher to wear a smart outfit and tie for services in 30degC plus temperatures and high humidity. 

In some regards we can get too hung up on what we look like almost as if our clothes suggest something about how well we are with God, our dress code should not distract others from the reason for going - to come together and worship God. Don't get me wrong I know that some wear smart clothes to church as a sign of respect for God and there is nothing wrong with that so long as we don't make it a legal requirement and so exclude others who don't have or wear such outfits. Jeff Lucas talks about a girl who stopped going when others in the church told her that her Doc Martin boots were not godly in his book Creating a Prodigal Friendly Church.

Fortunately formal dress is not required to attend church. God is concerned with our heart attitudes more than the clothes that we wear to church, we can be the smartest dressed and yet live a life that denies what we say we believe, stealing, fighting, swearing, gossiping and so on. The heart attitude that we bring with us to church is formed and fashioned by the life we live in Christ, our prayer life, our service, our love and our study of his words to us.

Perhaps if we spent a little more time on these and came together for worship of God with a pure heart full of wonder at all that he has done with and through us, we would reflect something of God's glory and that would be our outer clothing?

This little blessing from the Northumbria community might help remind us

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

If you want regular reminders of this bog - be a follower 

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