What's with the suits, anyway?

When I was a child, the only time I ever wore my Sunday best was on Sunday mornings, and I could never wait to take the things off and change into real clothes when we got home from church. Last year, before attending my very first mainline Christian church service as an adult, I sent an email to the pastor, asking if I would look out of place wearing jeans in church. She told me no. And while people tended to dress up there more than I did, I never did feel out of place.

So when I visited a progressive church, as I did this past Sunday, and I was greeted by two men at the front door in suits and ties, I had this flashback to the church I grew up in where everyone dressed to the hilt. Maybe the whole men in suits phenomenon is a Marin County thing. I did notice that everyone in the pews was pretty dressed up there. The pastor, on the other hand, wore a jacket but no tie, and no robe. Too bad, actually, because I like pastoral robes.

I was impressed with what the pastor said in his sermon. He came right out and said things that would have gotten him in trouble in a lot of churches, and which resonated very much with my own thinking. He spoke positively about religious pluralism, and about how he viewed Christianity as not being about the acceptance of dogma. This was stuff I could agree with. But when all was said and done, I still wasn't sure what to make of the greeters in their suits and ties.

That evening, to make up for the weird vibe that I had felt from being ignored at coffee hour after the morning service, I attended worship at a different progressive church that holds evening services. The church had more traditional elements, musically and otherwise, within its style of worship, than the morning church did. The pastor spoke in her sermon of the afterlife in non-dogmatic ways. She spoke of the evolving ideas of the afterlife in Jewish thought--how at one time it was thought that people went to Sheol when they died, and how it was only later on that the idea of a resurrection after death had developed, and even during Jesus's time, there was at least one party, the Sadducees, who did not accept the idea of resurrection. Having attended this church several times, I was becoming familiar with the music and the structure of service. It was almost beginning to feel familiar in a comfortable way.

And almost everyone there was casually dressed. Not a suit jacket to be found anywhere, nor a tie.


Ray said...

Sounds like two interesting churches you have attended - why not continue to attend both regularly for a couple of months and see what happens?