Does clothing make the person?

I got to musing this morning about the difference clothing makes. Partially, I suppose, because a friend and I have an interview to talk about the fine arts events at Community of Christ International Headquarters…specifically our monthly/weekly organ demonstration recitals. I know it’s on radio, but I wanted to wear an outfit today that is both comfortable and makes me feel confident.

At the same time, I was reading the newsletter from a congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It’s a church that reaches out to the hard-living. Nothing fancy–just sharing the news that God lives…that God loves…and that God can and does change lives. We are part of a program to help support them–a program called “Crumb Donors.” The newsletters give a peek into lives in the United States that I am not at all familiar with–a part of our world that I really don’t want to have to deal with. But these folks are my brothers and sisters…and as a follower of Christ, I have a responsibility to help bring healing into their lives in whatever way I can.

In one of the testimonies in the current newsletter (April 2011 Crumb Donor newsletter), Sister Charolette said, “…churches always look down on you if your clothes are not impressive and your offerings are invisible and your lifestyle is embarrassing.” And she found it difficult to believe that the church in Chattanooga was different–but it has changed her life and the lives of her family members.

I also got to thinking about the congregation I currently attend. I grew up at a time and in a location where “Sunday dress” was expected when you walked in the church building. I still want to dress appropriately when I go to worship–but in my current congregation, that may be jeans and a t-shirt…because we also reach out to folks who may have been hard-living, who don’t have “nice” clothes. And we want them to feel comfortable…to hear that God loves them and that we are there for them.

So do clothes “make” the person? I guess in some ways they do. But it’s more important for the soul to make the person…to make us into God’s presence in our world. If that means dressing up, that doesn’t hurt my feelings. If it means dressing down so that the message of God’s love¬†can be heard, that doesn’t hurt my feelings either.


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