Day 17: To the woman who asked about church dress code…

To the woman who asked me, “Does your church have a dress code?”…
I met you at the inflatable obstacle course. You patiently waited, holding shoes and socks, while the kiddos bounced over inflated tubes and climbed slippery walls. I watched as you moved closer and closer to my station at the course’s entrance. Most adults stood on the periphery, taking pictures or cheering participants. But, you had something to say. I could tell.
I made eye contact and smiled.
And you moved closer. Your shoulder almost touched mine as you whispered…”does your church have a dress code?”
I felt emotion well up in my chest and throat. My heart hurt because somewhere along the way you’d been taught that church and clothing come hand in hand. Me too. I grew up hearing “dress your best for God,” and I understand…except everyone’s “best” looks different.
I quickly responded with, “No, not at all. I’d wear this…” motioning to my volunteer t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. But, you weren’t buying it. I could tell.
“So, it’s not a place where I need a dress? And the children, do they?”
“No dress needed. I promise. What you’re wearing now would be perfect. And the kiddos can wear whatever they have at home.”
You looked me directly in the eye, weighing my words. And said, “I think I’ll come in the morning then.”
“I’d love to see you….”
Your mouth barely curved into the slightest smile. And with that, you walked away.
Here’s what I want you to know. Jesus says come to Me, and he really means that. I know church congregations often look fancy. And that can make you feel uncomfortable, out of place, less than, and left out. Most church people I know don’t want you to feel that way. But, we’ve lived inside our bubble for so long we’ve forgotten that not everyone acts, thinks, and dresses as we do.
That sometimes you’ve not been in church for years, not because you’ve rejected Jesus, but because you don’t have the right clothes and feel ashamed.  Forgive us. Most of us never meant to exclude or shame. Truly.
I pray you come. You are welcome here by me, by my church…and better than that? By Jesus, the Creator or heaven and earth. His arms are open wide, waiting. He created each of us in His own image – none better than the next.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Day 17 of 31

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