– Monday Muse –
Dear One, before church service one Sunday morning in the narthex, between the fellowship hall and the sanctuary, the person I was talking to glanced at what I was wearing, and asked, “Are you going somewhere special today?”
Yes, I am going to worship God, was my heart’s response, but I did not say that. Instead, I tried to hide how sad his words made me feel – for they implied that attention to attire must be for something other than the worship of God. Regretfully, that seems to be the attitude in much of our modern day America. It often appears that our personal comfort, or convenience, has become more important than our outward expression of respect for His Holiness. It is even becoming quite common for us to carry into the sanctuary a beverage to sip on throughout the service.
The Body of Christ used to dress for church on Sunday with the idea that we were going to church to give God, to the very best of our ability, the honor due his name – to reverently worship Him in the Splendor of His holiness. In those days, everyday clothes were for everyday.
One morning as I was getting ready for church, I looked in the mirror, and thought, I can’t wear this. People will think that it is too dressy for church. Then I thought, too nice for church, too nice for God’s house? Really? I wore it. If we get to the place where no one is wearing ‘Sunday’ clothes, people may start to show up in pajama bottoms. Oh, yeah, we already do that.
Some years ago, many, there was a movement to dress down. It was thought that the practice would help the financially struggling to feel more accepted; it was accompanied by more teaching about how God loves us, and less about how we are to love Him. The thought at the time was meant to be compassionate outreach, but now seems to have contributed to what appears to be a spiritual downward spiral. Apparently, if the church takes on the same appearance as the world we now live in, it is not trusted to truly have something better to offer.
Of course, there are differing views on this topic, and when discussing it someone will usually say, “It is not the outward appearance which matters, it is a matter of the heart,” and with that – all agree.
However, as I read the details which God lays out for the building of His Tabernacle, the details for every item to be used within and around the Tabernacle, the intricate patterns given for the robes of the Levite priests, the precise directions for the offering of sacrifices, or the Old Testament instructions for seeking forgiveness, it appears that God’s desires that corporate worship be one of order, and decorum, a place that in every way gives honor to the One Most High.
With this thinking, when I come across Psalm 96:6-9, I cannot help but pause, and take it in as best I can.
“Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.” NIV
For your review I looked up other translations, and recorded two besides the NIV
“Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” NIV
“Worship the Lord with the beauty of holy lives. Let the earth tremble before him.” Living Bible
“Worship the Lord in holy array; tremble before him, all the earth!” Revised Standard
When comparing the Body of Christ in worship in the churches which I have attended from the 1950’s to today, the change which stands out the most is our lack of decorum. It seems in this current trend of ‘me first,’ that we should consider long before the first worship song begins how we might fully worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.
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