When I was a kid, my family got dressed up on Sunday mornings to go to church.
My dad wore a suit that probably hadn’t been in style when he purchased it 20 years earlier. I was in a white dress shirt I don’t believe ever saw the light of day otherwise. I’d fumble with the knot in my tie. Mom would try to tame my cowlick while trying to untangle her necklace made from – I kid you not – moose turds.
I hated it. It felt so artificial that we’d all eagerly change as soon as we got home.
“I never experience God in camping or trees or nature. I hate nature,” said Lutheran minister Nadia Bolz-Weber in an interview with The Washington Post. “God invented takeout and duvets for a reason.” It made me think about my family’s old Sunday morning routine and why we weren’t just honest about who we were. Was dressing up like we were going to a steakhouse bringing us closer to God?
I realize some consider it disrespectful to God if they dress normally for church. But do we really dress for God? Too often we’re dressing up so we won’t be judged by the people in our church. Does that make church a spiritual social club rather than a place to connect with scripture and find God?
Fortunately our church proved dad’s ancient suit, my unkempt hair and mom’s moose turds weren’t reasons to turn us away. We made friends we stay in touch with to this day. They, like God, accepted us for who we were, not what we wore.
I suspect most churches are actually this way in spite of the three-piece suits, new dresses and plastered cowlicks that only show up Sunday mornings. “[Church] isn’t supposed to be the Elks Club with the Eucharist,” said Bolz-Weber. Instead she says it should be, “something that’s so devastatingly beautiful it can break your heart.”