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What not to wear: in Church

Would you wear a hat to Church? What about jeans?

Should the preacher wear a robe?

We had some really good discussion about this yesterday.  Right after we walked-through this Sunday’s message about excessive use of media.

Here was our challenge: all of us in the discussion were raised in Church, and fairly traditional church at that.

My mom regularly wore a hat to Church when I was younger

I never -NEVER – wore jeans to Sunday morning Church until I was almost 50.

Almost 20 years ago, I visited Windsor Village United Methodist Church. It was, at the time, one of the largest United Methodist congregations and one of the fastest growing.  The couple sitting next to me were active members and had been for years.  They were dressed better than I’ll ever hope to dress.

When Kirbyjon Caldwell, the Senior Pastor appeared, though, he was in khakis and a polo shirt.

Having been a pastor for several years already, I had never dared to show up on a Sunday morning without a tie.  So, I asked my neighbor, “does he always dress like that for worship?”

“Not always, but often,” she responded. “We have always said Windsor Village is a ‘come as you are’ church; you don’t have to dress up to be a part.”  She continued, “but visitors didn’t believe us until Pastor got out of the suits and clerical robes.”

We could spend a lot of time here arguing that how one comes before God in worship shouldn’t matter to anyone else, but it does.  We are social creatures.  I am pretty sure God made us this way, and, indeed, that God is this way.

So how do we find the place between “it makes absolutely no difference what you wear to church” and requiring veritable uniforms for folks to be part of your congregation?

We won’t get there by setting requirements or clearly defined lists of “do’s and don’ts”

Neither will we get there by saying nothing matter.

I believe we get there by having honest-as-possible conversations with others and internally about our expectations. But this is beyond your expectations and mine.  We need to talk openly about how we understand or articulate what we think God expects. And about the difference between the two.

US Christians Demand Religious Freedom…

for everyone!

I have long said that Christian are at our best when we are advocating for the rights, liberties, fair treatment of others.  I suppose I am willing to allege that this is true for everyone, not only for Christians.  But I especially want Christians to own it.

I think it represents Jesus far better than getting all whiney about our own rights, liberties, or fair treatment.

To be fair, people can advocate for their own rights, etc., without being whiney.  This is just my opinion: but US Christians seem to go whiney awfully quickly if we feel our rights, etc. threatened.

Just look at all the fuss we’ve been making over the persecution of Christians around the world lately.  I believe we would make a better case AGAINST persecution of Christians and FOR following Jesus if we opposed all religious persecution.

Speaking of which, I don’t know if you noticed, but a case of religious freedom was argued before the US Supreme Court yesterday. Samantha Elauf was 17 when she applied to work at an Abercrombie and Fitch store.  She was rated as a very good candidate.  Her rating dropped when management found out she wore a hajib – a traditional headcovering worn by some Muslims.  This dropped her rating enough that she wasn’t hired.

I don’t know how the case will come out.  The report I heard indicated that most of the Justices, in oral arguments, sounded like they leaned in her favor.

I have heard Christians lament about not being allowed to wear cross necklaces to work; shouldn’t we be just as concerned for the religious liberty of others?

Self-Betrayal goes Gaga

One of the first things I learned from my Facebook feed Monday morning was that Lady Gaga could sing.

Wow.  Who knew?

Really?  Who knew?  Millions of people knew!  she’s been selling lots of music and filling venues for years now.  Why the recent revelation?

Because Sunday night Lady Gag sang at the Oscars.  Which means people of my generation saw her. (I didn’t) They heard her.

They were, apparently, awestruck. This wasn’t the Lady Gaga they’d heard about or read about.

I am awestruck as well. But not at or about Lady Gaga.

No; I am awestruck that people my age have become their parents.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. At some point their parents had become their grandparents.

But didn’t we recognize this when we were younger? Didn’t we all watch The Breakfast Club and decide we wouldn’t become Principal Richard Vernon?

As young people, most of us felt misunderstood by our parents and their generation.  It felt as if they just didn’t understand.  They didn’t like our music, our hair, our clothing choices.

They didn’t “get it.”

Until Sunday night, we didn’t “get it.”  Now we are surprised.

What other assumptions have you made about the world as it is now that betray your disconnection with present reality in favor of the world ‘back in the day”?

Perspective and Habit-Forming

Hard Is Hard

Today reminds me of my first winter in Texas. It was 1977-78.  We had moved to Houston the previous August from Maryland.

It snowed once in Houston that winter.  Let me clarify: almost 1/4 inch of snow fell.  It wasn’t cold enough for it to accumulate except on cars, fences, and a little bit on the grass.

We, of course, got a day off from school.  Who could be expected to dare the roads under such conditions?

Still accustomed to Maryland’s winters, my brother and I played in the ‘snow’ in wind-breakers, laughing at calling that winter.

So here we are, “iced-in” in DFW.  It is barely below freezing, but everything is shut down.

I’ve learned, over the years, though, shutting down in Texas for ice and barely-freezing makes sense.  In Texas.

You see, it doesn’t take nearly as much ice as snow to make roads dangerous.  It also doesn’t make fiscal sense for Texas to invest in the amount of machinery and chemicals to face ice and snow that other places spend.

I’ve found this same principle is true in lives: hard is hard.

Each of us have different lives and face different challenges.  What someone else faces might seem like nothing to you though it burdens them terribly.  What seems insurmountable to you may be just about speedbump for another person.

May we all grow in our sensitivity to the challenges of others.  May we approach them with a sense of shared responsibility for the world rather than judgmentalism.


I remember this afternoon that conversation I had with a friend almost 9 years ago. My friend said that blogs are rants and she didn’t want to be ranting all the time.

I had been blogging for a couple of years at the time.  I took offense.  Then, after getting over the offense, I realized she was onto something.

I thought of that this afternoon because I just deleted a rant-blog-post.  It felt pretty good to type it out.  The act of typing it out and editing and typing again really helped me sort through that story.

In fact, I sorted it through enough that I no longer felt the need to share it with you.  Which will actually make your day better because you don’t need to read just another rant.  You’ll find (and hopefully ignore) enough of those today without my contributing.

Now, it could be that blogs have evolved over the past 9 years.  I know the way I deal with the internet has changed since 2006.  I bet it has for you, too.  Maybe we’re less ranty now.  Or maybe we have come to realize that things we put on the internet have this incredible propensity to stay there, to get around, to end up in places we don’t want them.

There IS a place for rants!  There are many,many more places NOT for rants.

May you and I continue to grow in knowing the difference!

Oh, and, BTW, that friend who suggested blogs were rants.  I married her 8 years ago this coming Tuesday.

And I couldn’t be happier.  Which cuts seriously into my need to rant.

Pope Francis’ Guide to Lent: What You Should Give Up This Year

Featured Image -- 4149


Down with Indifference!
Give up not caring for Lent

Originally posted on TIME:

Christians around the world mark the beginning of Lent with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. This ancient day and season has a surprising modern appeal. Priests and pastors often tell you that outside of Christmas, more people show up to church on Ash Wednesday than any other day of the year—including Easter. But this mystique isn’t reserved for Christians alone. The customs that surround the season have a quality to them that transcend religion.

Perhaps most notable is the act of fasting. While Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during the Lenten season, many people—religious or not—take up this increasingly popular discipline during the year.

MORE Here’s What People On Twitter Say They’re Giving Up For Lent

But Pope Francis has asked us to reconsider the heart of this activity this Lenten season. According to Francis, fasting must never become superficial. He often quotes the early Christian mystic…

View original 454 more words


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