Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Best

It's Sunday morning, so I thought I would reflect on the cultural phenomenon known as "Wearing Your Sunday Best".  Wearing your Sunday best hails back from simpler times, when most people only had one set of nice clothes and only bathed once a week.  Kids obeyed their parents, which wasn't so hard to do because they only had to make it to 13 before they could get married and move out of the cabin.  They chose to combine these two events - full-body hygene and wearing the one set of clothes that weren't patched and sweat-stained - on Sunday mornings.  This was done both to show proper reverence and because if they didn't noone could have lasted an entire church service without passing out from the stench.  It's ok to smell au naturale in the open field, but pack 100 people into a small room filled with one part fire and brimstone and two parts B.O. and it makes for a bad morning.

As time went by people found themselves no longer constrained as they once were, thanks to a rising standard of living and indoor plumbing, but the tradition of wearing "dress clothes" to church remained.  People lost touch with the original version of why this was; "Cause we all stink to high heaven in our work garb", and had to come up with new reasons to tell their children why they needed to be uncomfortably clothed in church; "we're wearing our best for God".  That's the real reason I was given as a child, as my parents forced me to wear polyester pants and starched dress shirts with a tie on Sunday mornings.  The pants were solid in color but had a texture that is best described as quilted with 1/8th of an inch squares.  To compliment this getup mom and dad combined that with faux suede brown dress shoes from Payless shoe store.  Yes, blue polyester dress pants and fuzzy brown shoes, maximizing personal discomfort and social unfashionability in one hideous combination.  I still remember the one kid whose mom let him wear jeans to church and my mom commenting on how she couldn't believe it.  Yes, that mom apparently didn't  love her child enough to make him unbearably uncomfortable and a social outcast in one fell swoop.

So my natural questions that I would have asked if I had wanted a big, red, hand-shaped imprint on my face would have been: "If we're supposed to wear our best for God on Sundays, why aren't we wearing tuxedos and ball gowns?  And if God is omnipresent why don't we wear our best for him every day instead of just one morning a week?  Doesn't the Bible say that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart?"

Needless to say, now that I am an adult (I would say all grown-up but I'm still waiting for a growth spurt my parents promised me and to stop loving Looney Tunes) I wear jeans and a t-shirt to church.  I may not be fashionable, but I am comfortable, and can focus on the One I came to worship, rather than whether my shirt has any wrinkles or how well my socks match the rest of my ensemble.  And I will never wear polyester again, even if I live in a senior citizen community where they issue 70's clothing to the residents (I know clothing doesn't last that long so they have to be getting a new supply from somewhere).