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achurchdressPaul’s first letter to the Corinthians contains lines that are quite familiar to most Christians, some recognizable even by a few words, like “Love is patient…” or today’s section, “There are many gifts, but the same spirit…” Paul is talking about spiritual gifts and the value of diversity for the benefit of the community (1COR 12:4-11). My attention was diverted from reflection on that topic, however, by a line in the psalm that preceded Paul’s words. It sounds rather silly but may make sense in the end. Let’s see.

The line in Psalm 96 says: “Worship the Lord in holy attire.” It’s a praise psalm with all sorts of images and imperatives for the ways we ought to worship God but that line reminded me of how we always got dressed up on Sundays to go to Church. Some of us still do and others complain about the “attire” – generally of young people – who appear in all sorts of what their elders consider as totally improper dress. I always say to those who offer that opinion that “at least they’re here.”

My point that arose from the line in the psalm juxtaposed with Paul’s words is not about what’s right or wrong but rather how we judge people by the clothes they wear. Teens are judged by the brand of their jeans (now best if they look like they’ve been through a paper shredder), adults by the name on their exercise outfits, women celebrities by the peepholes in their gowns and the rest of us by any number of regional or other fads that appear and disappear somehow that is beyond my comprehension. Paul doesn’t speak of the ability to intuit what is correct attire; he’s more interested in spiritual gifts. What he does add to this stream of thought, however, is that diversity is a good thing and we need it to broaden the consciousness of the community.

So hurrah for those unfazed by fads, people who wear what they wear either to be comfortable or to make a statement. Blessings on those who wear what they wear with dignity even if their lot is necessity and their clothes are well-worn and not of their choosing. May we never judge by what we see but always look deeper for “the manifestation of the Spirit…given for some benefit” and may we always celebrate the diversity of all the members in the body of Christ.