Tag Archives: Church

When Men Wore Hats

Hubs and I were sitting in Arby’s today, eating our Sunday lunch and talking about today’s church service. It’s our usual routine. Church, lunch, chat. A little people-watching always goes along with that, as we share communion of Arby’s sandwiches with our fellow man … and woman. I love to observe people. I don’t do it to judge; I do it because they interest me. Today, I watched a larger, middle-aged woman in stretch capris and a pink hoodie order food with a small man in green shorts over black sweat pants and orange socks. A man dressed all in tattered black proved that he could indeed mix colors by showing me his upper butt crack. Pasty white on black – the “in” colors of 2014. (Okay, butt crack always makes me judge a little.) A tidy older woman with coifed hair and blue jeans came in, followed by a family with four children who hadn’t visited a bathtub in a week. We see all kinds during our Sunday ritual.

On this particular Sunday, Hubs had performed double duty for choir. He had sung with his all men’s singing group for our first service. When they perform, they wear suits and matching ties. Men looking dapper – mmm, gotta love it. So, when the full chancel choir entered the sanctuary for the second service, a number of the men who sang at the first service were also present in the full choir for the second service. As I sat in the back pew (where every good Christian sits) and watched the choir enter, I was impressed by how classy and well-groomed they looked. In our laid-back church, people wear whatever they want. Most of the time, it’s dressy casual, but there’s always a mix of blue jeans and suits. To see that many suits all at once in the choir loft was a real treat.

At lunch, after the obligatory, covert people-watching, Hubs and I discussed the morning’s service. I mentioned how well-groomed the men in the choir had looked. Hubs agreed. I was about to remark about how slovenly society in general had become when I happened to glance around the restaurant. I saw the lady in pink and her companion on one side of us and the family with the kids on the other. If I had said that remark, even though it was a general one, I would have insulted most of the people in the restaurant, so I shut my trap.

Perhaps it’s me. I’ve been told that I’m too prissy for my own good, but to me, it just means that I hold myself to a standard of appearance that makes me comfortable. But I have to wonder when society began to believe that all forms of dress are appropriate at all times. Frankly, I blame the leisure suit.

I grew up in a time where a person wore his or her Sunday best to church. We dressed, and we dressed well. I remember playing with the fox stole of the prim, elderly woman who sat in front of us. The mouth clipped onto the tail, and the young me, maybe 6 or 7, would stroke the fox, petting it. When was the last time you saw a fox stole in church?

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The ladies wore hats and never removed them. The men wore hats and always removed them. Suits and ties were de rigueur. My dad shined his shoes with tins of Kiwi polish every Saturday night. Dressed to the nines, we worshipped God in style.

Where has that mentality gone? I remember the first time a woman dared to wear dress slacks to church in the ‘70s. Titters and gasps rippled through the congregation as she walked down the center aisle to her pew. You’d have thought she was wearing slacks designed by Satan himself. The first time I wore dress slacks to church, I felt like I was sinning, so ingrained was the idea of wearing dresses for worship. Nowadays, I’ll admit to wearing jeans too, but they’re nice jeans. You know, the ones that aren’t ripped and still bleed dye in the wash. I can’t even tell you the last time I wore a dress. Or a hat and fox stole.

Today at church, it was refreshing to see that many men in suits and ties. I think it’s only right that if we are going to give God our best, then we should dress in our best. But then, does He really care what we wear when we’re doing His work? After all, John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved the world of fashion, that He gave His only Son a Rolex, and whosoever believeth in His dress code shall have eternal good taste.” I still love to see a well-dressed person, so maybe a dress code for life wouldn’t be a bad idea, but it would certainly make people-watching at Arby’s a lot less interesting.

The Caller’s New Name

One of the fun things that I do is edit the monthly newsletter for our church. I started in January of 2006, so I’ve been at it for 99 months, but really it only seems like 3 months, plus 8 years. The newsletter is called The Caller. It wasn’t my choice. It’s been The Caller for over 20 years, through at least two other editors. As a title, it’s kind of old fashioned, with that “sittin’ on the porch swing with your best gal” feel to it.

We could probably update it to something more in tune with today’s world, like The InstaChrist or Jesusgram or iCall. My favorite is GraceBook. Something with a more technological feel would give people the impression that we’re a groovy and happening church, or should that be a tight and rad church? Because we are a tight and rad church.

We have a cool outreach to over 150 children on Wednesday nights. If we include the adults that volunteer their time to help, that number reaches 300. We have rad programs that reach out to the LGBT community within and without our building, programs that are committed to helping feed and clothe adults and children in our community and programs that reach out into the world through mission trips. We have an on-line presence with a website and FaceBook page. Our choir is growing again with a new choir director. Our one-on-one caring ministry is touching more and more people in need. A few years ago, our congregation decided that it was time for our building to be more attuned to our current ministries, so we’re completing a remodeling project that turned around our 50 year old sanctuary a full 180 degrees. It’s turned us on our ears, as we re-examined our ministries, stream-lining some, expanding others, adding new ones that count. Even cynics would have to agree that what we’ve done and are doing is tighter than skinny jeans on a hipster.

Our church is “tight and rad.” Translate that to “active and growing.” We are fulfilling our Christian commitment to reach out and care for those beyond our building’s walls. Growth is good, and yet the newsletter is stuck with an old-fashioned name. The Caller. As if we’re going to go knocking on doors and invite you to church. Who does that anymore? It’s not like we can go a-callin’ on the neighbors at any time of day. As a society, we’re not that way now. Who has time to sit and chat? We’ve all got phones that go with us every place we go. Why visit in person when a text will do? So, I’m proposing that an appropriate name for The Caller that would be in keeping with the current times and mission of the church would be … The Caller.

That’s right. No change. It may seem like an old-fashioned name for a church newsletter at first, like we’re not keeping up with the trends of the modern, secular society, but really, it is the universal message for all Christians to call people to Christ. That has never changed. We are called again and again to reach out. In response, we, the called, are reaching out to those who are in need of Christ and Christ’s care through us. We are calling them to us. We are The Caller.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be the editor of The Caller. I will continue until God calls me elsewhere or calls someone else to do it, just like He called me. What I do know is that during my turn as editor, I will always champion the name, The Caller. It’s a little awkward, a little old-fashioned, but it also says everything about who our church is as Christians. We are The Caller. And people are answering.

 

 

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Meet My New Pet, Juan Pablo

Water buffalo. Two. Mine, all mine.  Why? Because they were Christmas gifts.

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Each month, I put out the newsletter for my church. This is my eighth year as a volunteer. Every Christmas, my thoughtful pastors give us a small gift bag with chocolates and a thank you note. I think the note said something or other about giving two water buffalo. It’s a lovely gesture, but I’m still waiting for the pigs they promised a couple of years ago. So now I have two water buffalo roaming around in my back yard, which if you’ve seen my back yard, you will know is the size of a rather large postage stamp. Or at least, I WILL have two water buffalo roaming around in my back yard. They haven’t been delivered yet either. From what I understand, I have to share them with the rest of the church staff. I haven’t been told what the schedule is yet, so I don’t know if they’re going to be coming to my house for a week or a month at a time. These things should be taken care of in advance when one is giving a present like this, don’t you think? Really. What were my pastors thinking? I must admit that it must be the thought that counts here. I just can’t understand why they think the staff of a mid-Western church needs to share two water buffalo though. I’ve never seen any inclination of the staff to want to herd things. Shepherding the congregation is another matter altogether. Water buffalo? They can’t be used for baptisms. Wrong kind of water, so even around the church, they’re kind of useless. They can’t even be used to pick up parishioners from their homes on Sunday mornings. Face it, in the world of animals as autos, water buffalo are sturdy convertibles, but our winters are much too cold for open canopy water buffalo taxis. Around my house? Like I said, my yard is small. Even plowing up a garden plot wouldn’t take very long. And if I tried to have a garden, the water buffalo would stomp all over it when I let them outside to do their “business.” Really. What good are two water buffalo to me, Mrs. Suburban Mid-West Woman? I’m going to have to talk to the rest of the staff, but maybe we can give the water buffalo to Heifer International so that they can help two families sustain themselves. The shipping costs might be exorbitant, but I’ll feel better knowing that Sally and Juan Pablo (I’ve gotten attached) are being put to good use instead of trampling my garden or being played on like a jungle gym in the church nursery. I’ll miss them, but they belong with other people who need them more than I do. I think the church secretary will agree too. Sally never got the hang of answering the phones and Juan Pablo tried to photocopy his butt. Hello, repairman. Good bye, Juan Pablo and Sally. It’s for the best. I wish them well. I hope that for next Christmas, the pastors just donate money to Heifer International in our names. Well, I’m off to buy some buffalo kibble. Anyone know a good wholesaler? I’m going to need a lot. I just hope the pigs don’t finally come too. I’m not sure there’s room.

http://www.heifer.org/