Do you remember your Sunday Best? I do. I had a dress, sometimes two, that I kept for church. That was the only time I wore it, except maybe for holidays. At Christmas and at Easter, you'd get a new one, and one of your old ones would be retired - to the give-away pile, to "school clothes", somewhere.
Grown up ladies had their Sunday Best too. So did grown up gentlemen. They always looked so nice on Sunday - even though you'd seen them in that dress for the last six months of Sundays. (Gentlemen wore their Sunday suits for decades sometimes).
One day our sleepy little church got a firey new pastor. He was gifted of the Lord, and our 300 person church grew to 2000 people in less than five years. (I live in a populous area, don't be too excited). With the new pastor, came new people - and that was when the 80s were in full bloom, with prosperity and conspicious consumption. Suddenly how people dressed started to change. Fashion hit church clothes.
I remember when the folks who couldn't afford the flashy new duds started looking a little faded next to the other folks. They hadn't before. Maybe I was just too young to notice, maybe it was times changing. But there did creep in the look-ism that has nothing to do with church, nothing to do with God. Sunday Best, making an effort - it's not about competition. It's about showing respect for God's house and fellowship with God's people.
Now I go to a non-denominational church, and I go on Saturday night because Sunday services are just too crowded. Mostly, even the ladies wear jeans and tshirts. Christian tshirts. But tshirts. (I went back to my home church for an AWANA event the other day. The other ladies were dressed like me... skirts and blouses and long, long hair. I was like, "Oh, there's where y'all are!")
It's a good thing that people come to church without feeling like they have to be in a fashion show, without feeling like they have to have special clothes. But I miss Sunday Best. I miss men knowing to take their hats off. I miss... I miss the effort, I miss everyone making church an event, even a small one. And I think we're the poorer for it.
We don't make an effort at all these days, and never pulling ourselves up lets the baseline creep perpetually downward.
If then, a few people lowering the bar lowered it gradually for everyone, a few people raising the bar will gradually raise it for everyone. Right? Are you with me? Let's raise the bar. Bring back Sunday Best.