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Church Clothes by Carrie Bartlow

An Advent Devotion
The Canticles of Christmas
Week Four: Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Friday, December 29

Isaiah 61:10

“…For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…" (Isaiah 61:10b)

I was eight. 

I’d spent the night at a friend’s house, knowing I’d be attending her family’s church the next morning. After getting ready, I emerged from the bathroom wearing a dress and sandals.  She sat playing Nintendo in jeans and a t-shirt. 

“Aren’t you going to get dressed for church?” I asked. 

“Already did,” she said, her eyes fixed on Tetris. 

“Your parents let you wear that to church?”

“Yeah. They say it doesn’t matter what you wear. It just matters that you’re there.”

I don’t know why I’ve remembered that conversation after all these years, because most days I can’t remember to grab my lunch on the way out the door!

Sunday mornings at our house usually involve a struggle with kids about wearing church appropriate attire.  As the discussion escalates, there’s often a voice in the back of my mind whispering “It doesn’t matter what you wear. It just matters that you’re there.”

Sundays would be easier if, instead of fighting the athletic shorts and flip-flops, I could open each of our closets to find garments and robes designed with us in mind. And, what if these pieces covered us with grace, forgave us of sin, and helped us do as Jesus would do? 

Maybe that’s exactly what I find as I select our clothes each Sunday morning. They’re not robes, but each piece represents a fresh start. A new day. Another chance to forgive and be forgiven. An opportunity to “show up” for a God we love.

What if instead of worrying about the way we look, we worry more about the way we act?  What if instead of tearing others down, we consider the ways He has built us back up, time and time again, extending grace and forgiveness, despite the sin that is hidden under each robe? 

I hope we might find that all that matters is that we’re there.

Carrie Bartlow

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