I don’t remember Mom referencing Christine, her friend with 9 lives, when it came to clothing, but I imagine she must have. I do recall my father, saying, “No daughter of mine will walk out of this house dressed like that!” I grew up in the midst of mini skirts and halter tops, so I heard that one a lot.
What I do remember is my mom and sisters telling me a story about the day I was born. This was back in the time when women still wore white gloves and hats to church, or to a doctor’s appointment, or any number of events that demanded dressing well. They even got dressed up to fly on airplanes.
My sisters recall waking up on March 9, to find my mother dressed in her go-to-meeting clothes, including stockings and heels, and my father urging her to hurry up. When they asked her why she was so dressed up, she told them that she was going to the hospital to have the baby and that when they got home from school they would know if they had a brother or sister. Imagine putting on all the usual undergarments of the day, which meant a full slip, garter belt, brassiere and stockings, a dress, heels, hat, and gloves, dressing like Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth – while in labor!
If mom knew that under my vestments when I preach these days, that I am wearing jeans, sneakers, and often a rather old blouse, she’d be sorely disappointed. I have fallen greatly in the fashion department, and all the more in this time of social distancing. It has been refreshing to see others falling from grace as well, as we meet via Zoom.
I am actually so tired of dressing down that the last two Friday evenings I’ve gotten dressed up, a nice dress, jewelry, makeup, shoes other than sneakers, but alas, no stockings. Fifteen years in Hawaii cured me of that habit.
There are all sorts of customs and practices about what we wear based on location, role, geography, and social and cultural expectations. That holds true for worship as well. Even these change over time. I haven’t seen women in church with white gloves, or hats with mesh that flowed down over the face in decades (although it might not be a bad idea to resurrect those accessories right now).
But there are some clothing practices that ought not change. Paul puts those practices this way, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14).
Imagine how life might change if that was the universal dress code?
With love for you, chosen ones, holy and beloved (warts and all!) ~ Anne