“Sunday Best”

i grew up in an era where the phrase “put on your sunday best” meant you were to put on your very best clothes…the clothes you wore to church on sundays.  i’ve tried to do some research on where the whole idea of dressing up on sunday came from.  i found this interesting article that sheds some light on the dressing up for church phenomena.  here’s a quote:

Dressing up for church became a popular practice in the first half of the nineteenth century, first in England, then northern Europe and America, as a consequence of the industrial revolution and the emergence of the middle class.  While care was historically given to cleanliness and solemnity on Sabbath days, dressing up for worship resulted, not from a theological teaching, but from the influence of Victorian culture on worshiping communities.

you ought to read the rest of the article.

contrary to popular belief.  i own more than one tie.  they’re all pretty old, but i do own them.  for years, i wore a coat and tie every sunday.  i have two suits.  one doesn’t fit very well because i’m a little bigger now than when i first bought it.  i bought another one recently.  i was on my way to the mall to buy a new coat for a funeral i was going to perform, but my jeep got mysteriously sucked in to the parking lot of bargain depot.  i can’t explain it, but it just got sucked into this vortex…

while i was there, i bought a nearly brand new suit, a spiffy sport coat, and a pair of slacks…all for $35!  I am now set for the next decade of funerals, weddings, award banquets, and the photo shoot for our new church pictorial directory.  if you don’t know what a church pictorial directory is, count yourself blessed…

i am so grateful to serve in a church that doesn’t require a dressing up ritual for sundays…or any days for that matter.  i know there are places in society where coats and ties are the socially required garb.  i respect that.  i really do.  i also respect people who feel it is more honorable to dress a certain way when they worship.

what do you think?


6 thoughts on ““Sunday Best”

  1. Its funny. I have this picture on my desk at work of me and my siblings one Easter Sunday…I’m about 10 or 11 – and we’re all dressed up.

    My mother made me a dress for church about once a year when I was a kid, depending on how fast I grew. I also had one pair of “sunday shoes” which I wasn’t allowed to wear during the week. I liked dressing up for church because it made me feel special. I also hated it in some ways because I wore the same dress every Sunday, when other little girls had a bunch of different ones. I felt embarressed at times, and I remember at one point telling my mother so.

    I can remember her asking me to take a black marker to her shoes every sunday, to hide the scuff marks, or to glue the heal back on with my elmer’s glue. I can remember her crying when her one pair of panty hose got a run, because all the church people were going to think so badly of her if she weren’t wearing panty hose. They would KNOW.

    It was like a horrible game we played every week. Dressing up and masking our family’s reality – trying to look like we had it all together. I really hated listening to my parents fight all the way to the church, then watching my mother fix her lipstick and slap on a smile just before we went in, and checking to make sure we all looked presentable.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking nice…out of respect, or just ’cause you want to. I just don’t like the game of it. The rifts stupid things like clothing can cause, and the idea that if I make myself look good I might fool myself and other people and maybe God into thinking I AM good. There’s too much deception there. Too much…i don’t know…stuff.

    I’d rather just wear jeans and be done with it.

    And I’ve never really liked shoes much in the first place…for the record.


  2. You’re bringing back memories here! I vividly remember why I wore my Sunday best. Cause Mom said to!

    Seriously though, her logic was based on Proverbs 3:9 (Honor the Lord with your posessions) and the old Hymn “Give of Your Best to the Master” that was based on it. Her logic, which I can’t fault was that your best included what you wore as well as what you thought, did, said, etc. For her, it was an act of worship, not something you did to impress anyone or to cover anything up.

    Growing up in a family with 8 kids, our best was seldom new, but it was always clean and really was our best.

    With today’s ever changing clothing styles and trends, I wouldn’t know where to start if I tried to dress my family in “Sunday Best.”

  3. I would struggle in a church that I couldn’t wear shorts, t-shirt and a cap to. Early in our relationship we tried out several churches and I was never comfortable putting on a costume to go to worship a God that loves me as I am. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have any more problem with you dressing up than you should have with me being comfortable. I can’t imagine dressing my boys up in Sunday bests every week, its all I can do to get matching crocs on them….

  4. Looks like the expectation on “dressing” is provided by the culture and the leadership of the church.
    Thus, I’m pretty sure that you, Mike, have a big influence on the appearance of the people at NPCC.
    Just as in everything, attitude, customs and traditions comes from the top……

  5. Hi Mike! I found your blog!

    I have enjoyed reading the last several posts, and I love this “Sunday Best” discussion.

    As the mother of toddler/preschool boys, I am in the habit of dressing them in “a shirt with a collar”, as my 4-year old puts it, for church. The primary reason I do this is to ensure that they will still be wearing said shirt when I pick them up from kids’ church. See, they have both perfected the art of removing their t-shirt in 1.5 seconds, which they do on a daily basis at home, the second they are in the house. But the buttons on those pesky “shirts with a collar” slow them down long enough for a teacher intervention.

    I think this might be the real origin of the “Sunday Best” tradition. The desire of mothers ’round the world to not have to pick up naked children from kids church.

    Just my theory.

    And welcome home, Corey!

  6. I notice Mandy didn’t tell you what the boy’s wear when Dad takes them to church by himself. I’ll give you a hint – whatever they want! I take them into the closet and say, “Your pick!” It usually involves some sort of sleeveless shirt or tank top and shiny athletic shorts (The tops and bottoms are rarely matching). Follow that up with bright blue Diego knee-socks and they’ve got quite the ensemble. They have yet to be naked upon pick-up, so I believe my wife is simply fallen victim to the wayward teachings of the “MAN!” The “Sunday Best Man” that is.

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