Friday, July 26, 2013

Come as you are. . .

Recently I got a bulletin from a member who had visited another Lutheran parish will away.  Tucked among the announcements was an encouragement to "come as you are."  The point was made that it is summer, that we all have plans, that dressing for what you plan to do following worship should not preclude you from worshiping (even if it is a trip to the beach).

Another member said that they attended another Lutheran parish in which an announcement was made "we are not one of those stuffy churches" that worries about what you wear, about carrying in drink or food into the nave (make that sanctuary, no, make that worship space), or constant posture changes (standing, sitting, kneeling, etc...).  We want you to be comfortable.

Funny though... We may come as we are but God does not leave us that way very long.  Jesus speaks of the Church as the wedding celebration in which the Lord provides us clothing.  Remember what happens to the one who is not wearing what the Lord has provided?  Yeah... not a good out come.  Furthermore, baptism is all about clothing that covers up how we came.  How we come is unworthy of the Lord and offensive to Him.  He takes us and clothes us with Christ's righteousness because even our best efforts are not good enough.  On judgment day the Lord will tell us when the naked were clothed and rejoice in this small act of mercy.  Come as you are does not appear to fit in with the Scriptures.

Finally, the idea that God wants us to be comfortable seems equally at odds with His Word.  He speaks to us the Law to make us squirm.  It is exactly our comfort and ease with who we are that is must be addressed.  The mirror of the Law accuses and makes us uncomfortable -- so uncomfortable that we want to cover up.  Thankfully, the Lord covers us not with a robe of our own choosing but with the forgiveness that overcomes sin's stain and the righteousness of Christ that accords us well before the Lord.  Our comfort level seems hardly God's concern.  Instead, our redemption is His concern.  In order for us to be redeemed, He must address us with the Law and afflict the comfortable that we may be comforted with the Gospel of the cross.  Christ has not come for the comfortable, the righteous and secure in themselves but for the sinner who cannot bear the weight of his or her guilt, for the sick with sin even to death who yearns for life, and for the lost who cries in the darkness for His light.

Contrary to those who insist God does not care what you wear, the Church has a dress code.  We come in the clothing of Christ's righteousness.  When we dress appropriately we are not trying to impress God or compete with this gift of king's clothing.  No, instead we dress appropriately precisely because we recognize what God has done.  We dress up not to cover up our sin with our own tattered rags of righteousness but because we acknowledge the clothing of Christ's righteousness as gift and blessing.

I do not tell people what to wear but there have been many times I wish I had the nerve to tell them what not to wear.  I challenge the nothing that we have no dress code and I applaud the idea that tasteful and modest clothing befits those who enter the holy ground of God's house to meet the Lord where He may be found...


Unknown said...

Worship, genuine worship, is not supposed to be comfortable. To be comfortable dulls the senses to be receptive to what The Lord gives and makes us lethargic to actually pray. Of course, most if this "come as you are" BS is from churches that are more lectures than actual worship with orders, hymns, etc..

Dr.D said...

No one would go to an interview for a much needed job dressed casually or sloppily. Surely our need for eternal salvation and a place in the Kingdom is vastly more important than our need for a temporal job.

How we dress reflect the respect we have for the Lord, or in some cases, our lack of respect for the Lord.

Fr. D+
Anglican Priest

Anonymous said...

Wear your jersey on Super Bowl Sunday morning!