By Reba Phelps
Once upon a time in a land far away, like really far away, there lived a young woman in a very tiny town. This particular woman was very kind and beautiful. All of the townsfolk looked favorably upon her. One day this young lady was involved in a scandal that would shake the little town to its very core. The barber shop was busy for days discussing the ins and outs of the said scandal. That’s right…men discuss just as much in the barber shop, if not more, than we ladies do. The local Post Office was also abuzz with all of the latest hearsay updates.
Being pretty young at the time, I didn’t have much thought about the scandal other than it would have made a really awesome episode of “All My Children.”
A couple of weeks into the scandal this beautiful and very broken young lady came into church wearing her Sunday best. She sat on a pew very close to me. Looking back it all seemed to happen in slow motion. I spoke and told her hello. She very meekly and shyly spoke back. The most casual observer could tell that she was clearly uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was her normal demeanor at church or if it was the fact you could have heard a pin drop followed by many whispers and gasps by some of the good church folk as she walked by.
As the church pews began to fill no one sat near her. She seemed to tune all of it out and was listening intently to the Pastor and his sermon. I don’t remember much about the sermon because I was more concerned over how this young lady was being treated.
At the end of the church service we were all dismissed to our Sunday School classes.
Before class actually began some of the Sunday School members were discussing the nerve of someone so imperfect just strolling into church acting as if nothing had ever happened.
I remember the events of this day so vividly because it was a turning point in my life on how I treated others. More specifically, how I treated others who were treated like they were less than because of mistakes. I was a very young Christian at the time and it literally broke my heart to see how a person with known flaws was treated when they came to the house of God. I remember a feeling of hopelessness for her.
Being a preacher’s daughter I have attended my fair share of church services. After years of observation I have determined there is no greater emotional crime than “Christian on Christian” crime. There is no deeper cut than one that comes from a Christian brother or sister.
Church is the one place we should not worry about being accepted by others. We shouldn’t have to worry about what we are wearing. We shouldn’t have to worry if people are judging us while we worship or even how we worship. We shouldn’t feel the need to impress anyone or wonder if we will be judged for our transgressions once we arrive.
The church is where the broken should gather and be loved and helped. It should be a refuge and safe haven.
For some your Sunday best might include a nice dress or a neatly pressed suit. It may also include kids that have matching clothes, perfect hair and do not appear that they had to be held down and threatened to get dressed for church. For some your Sunday best is a picture of perfection on the outside.
Sometimes our Sunday best includes hiding what is really going on in our lives. Have you ever imagined what it would look like if we had to wear shirts that described our sins? Or what we were really feeling on the inside?
Liar. Adulterer. Anger. Loneliness. Fear. Pride. Jealousy. Sadness. Unloved. Thief.
Our Sunday best should really include a forgiving and loving heart. A heart that is full of compassion and ready to love whoever may come strolling into your place of worship and sit on a pew next to you acting as if they were perfect.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”