Doug De Graffenried – First United Methodist Church, Natchitoches, Louisiana
The Apostle Paul encouraged the church to put on the whole armor of God. The armor consists of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. I wonder if it is all color coordinated? The metaphors Paul would choose today would be very different, but the necessity for preparing for spiritual battle is more pressing than any time in memory. It is dangerous to be a Christian and to hold Biblical views on social issues.
If I were putting on the whole armor of God in my usual way on Sunday morning I would look quite the mess. Since I leave early for church I dress in very little light. I don’t want to disturb those girls who pile up in the bed once I leave it. There is one two legged girl and she is joined by two four-legged girls. They don’t like to be disturbed early on a Sunday. The other dressing challenge I have is that even in bright sunlight, I can’t tell the difference between black and navy blue. Someone has sorted by socks such that the black ones are in the drawer below the navy blue ones. I have no such short cut with my slacks. Sunday, my desire and intention was to wear black slacks.
This leads me to my clothing malfunction on Sunday morning. I preached four times last Sunday. I was invited to preach at the Lion’s Club meeting at the Civic Center. I gave them my best shot at 7:40 a.m. and then preached the usual three sermons at the church. By the time I got to the fourth sermon I was “not bad.” On my way out of the church, I was ambling with my bride toward the car.
She said, “I still can’t believe you wore that this morning. I am so embarrassed.” This was the second time I had heard those words.
I have previously confessed to my oval shape. I used to have six pack abs, but now I have a keg. In our early service I wear a pulpit robe. You can hide any body shape or any clothing malfunction under a robe. I look stately and dignified, as much as is possible for me. The other two services I am in street clothes. There are two liturgical clothing seasons for me. October to April is the sweater vest season. May to September is the Hawaiian shirt season. That is one of the joys of a contemporary worship service culture; I can wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes! An oval preacherand a tucked in dress shirtare the ingredients for clothing embarrassment. You can’t preach faithfully if you are worried about your dress shirt coming un-tucked. You can’t preach up a storm with your arms by your side. That is where you must keep them if you worry about “tuck-in-age.”
Sunday was likely the last of the sweater vest Sundays. The sin I committed was that my sweater vest did not match my slacks. My bride was on the front row in our contemporary service Sunday. She watched me preach up close and personal. When I joined her for the last song, she leaned over and said, “You don’t match. There is no blue in your sweater. You are wearing navy blue slacks and your sweater doesn’t match.” It was a multi-colored vest, having gray, maroon and black. Although there was no blue, there were plenty of complimentary colors to blue. After all, doesn’t everything match navy blue?
I told her, “But the gray in the sweater is a complimentary color and therefore I match.” It is so confusing because gray can be spelled properly“gray” or “grey.” You should look up the internet articles on “gray” they are fascinating. I was thinking about the complexity of gray, when she said:
“You do not match. I am so embarrassed.”
I said, “So the whole time I was preaching you were looking at my sweater?”
She said, “It was very distracting. I’m sure that your clothes were distracting many people who wondered, how could she let him out of the house looking like that?” I was just happy my oval shape was completely covered!
I am going to buy her a t-shirt that reads, “I love my colorblind husband.” Or “He got out of the house without my approval.” Or “He dresses himself.”
I am not fully color blind, I am clothing color challenged. I know that very soon my closet will have the slacks placed in such a way that I won’t have any doubt about navy blue or black.I would not be surprised if she introduces a scheme for matching my clothes. I have also learned that for some reason, the way I look seems to reflect on her abilities as a spouse. I’m glad she never saw me in college!
Sunday will begin the Hawaiian shirt season! Those shirts don’t match anything which is another way of saying they match everything.
Jesus doesn’t count our clothing sins against us, He looks into our hearts.