Saturday, November 25, 2006

3214 Dress up, dress up for Jesus

Last Sunday I wore my "little black dress" to church. It was a bit dressy, but then even pressed jeans and a holiday sweater are dressy these days. I suggested to my husband that he wear his suit--neither one of us dress up much these days, especially since everyone else is dressing down. He said he was ushering, and a suit wouldn't look right--so he wore a sport coat, slacks, dress shirt and tie. During the service, I noticed that the woman he was paired with for the offertory, was wearing blue jeans. I see why he would have felt a bit self conscious in a dark suit. Remember, we attend a traditional service, not the contemporary or rock 'n roll.

For you younger women, let me retell the old, old story of how we got here, because you may not remember when people enjoyed looking nice, when clothing enhanced women (and men) instead of ridiculing them. In the 1960s, middle class and college educated white people began showing up at civil rights marches in the South. They tried to fit in and look like they cared more than the other whites by wearing blue jeans--sort of sharecropper chic. Most of the blacks were dressed well, except for a few civil rights leaders who also wanted to fit in by wearing cover-alls.

Also in the 60s the hem lines started to rise, until by the early 70s, women couldn't cover their rears when they sat down. This started a rush by women into pants suits--in a wide variety of colors--I had yellow, green, fuschia pink, lime, navy and orange, and even my mother and mother-in-law started wearing pants suits. Really, it was the only way to be modest in those dark days of material deprivation. Feminism came in there someplace and that increased the shift to wearing pants, since the leaders thought that might be why men made more money (they were wrong). Now that was 30 years ago, but it convinced millions of women that they looked better in pants than skirts--a HUGE problem which coincided with the trend to obesity with bigger bottoms and BMIs.

Once pants suits had made their way into the doors of work and church, there was no stopping the jeans and shorts. Computer geekdom contributed to some of this, especially the baggy, rumpled look and baseball caps. Everyone wanted to look like a nerd even if they didn't know what to do with a USB. Then someone decided there needed to be a "casual Friday" and it eventually slopped all the way over through Sunday evening, and is showing up on Monday. Soon, even ministers began preaching in torn jeans and dirty t-shirts with back up from guitarists in shorts. Our pastors at UALC haven't gone that far, but I've seen them change clothes between services (we have eleven services at 3 locations) so they won't be too much dressier than the congregation (you could wear a bathrobe and still be dressier than some I've seen).

So I've composed a hymn which can be sung to the same tune as Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus.

Dress up, dress up for Jesus, ye women of the cross
Pack up designer blue jeans, it will not be a loss.
From picnic unto ball game His army you can lead,
But please for Sunday meeting, let Christ be Lord indeed.

Dress up, dress up for Jesus, don't let me be alone;
Your flesh I'm tired of seeing, you cannot trust your own.
Put on a suit or dress, each piece put on with prayer;
When playground duty calls you, then let your jeans go there.

Dress up, dress up for Jesus, each fam'ly to its post
Go forth into the conflict, and shout with all the host
You will not look so casual, from head unto your toes
Let grace and taste and beauty, give strength to trend oppose.

Dress up, dress up for Jesus, the skirt need not be long,
But please a little coverage, will be this matron's song.
You think you look so humble, I see a sloppy mess,
You're with the King of Glory? Why should we have to guess?


Anonymous said...

I like your dress up for Jesus hymn. I admit that I only wear skirts or dresses to church in the summer time or holidays (no jeans though). I also agree with you on casual Friday. It has become "be a bum everyday".

Gretchen Lavender said...


I found your profile while reading a comment on another blog. I like the way you write. This one really made me laugh:-)

Keep up the good blogging:-)


Chaotic Mom said...

I was just thinking about this today in church, and now I'm reading your song on your blog! How funny, but TRUE! ;)

Dancing Boys Mom said...

I will be humming this every Sunday now. You know it bothers me that we get dressed up for weddings and funerals and concerts but we look like street walkers and bums at church. Loved the line about not wanting to see their skin. Where are these girls' fathers? Don't they tell them what guys, even guys in church, are thinking when they dress like that?

Now, if I can only find a maternity dress that covers something below my thigh. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

That is quite a hymn. You should do some more!! So true. Some people have thought our church "dresses up" a lot. Probably due to the fact that the congregation is older and that's the way they've "been brought up." I can see how the "look" can be intimidating to younger people who are afraid they won't fit in anyway. (We're not fashion plates, by any means, but we do try to dress respectfully.)

Anonymous said...

You should visit the Presbyterian church our children attend.(no
slacks and all the women wear hats in the sanctuary)

Joan said...

I love it, Norma!! I have kept up with your blog whenever my computer has allowed. I had missed this post until today though. I am hoping that Best Buy can be coerced into replacing my computer this time instead of having to wait for a repairman again. I plan to take it to them tomorrow and give it a try.

Anonymous said...

Great hymn Norma, and you are right things are a lot different in my church. Women only wear dresses and skirts even when not in church! Men always have jackets and ties in church and our ushers have matching jackets (in two colors to match the auditorium). The only difference is sometimes during Wednesday night Bible study people dress down only because (like me) they are coming from work and did not get a chance to change.