Monday, October 19, 2015

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service?

This particular sign is a recent phenomenon in American culture, spreading its way across the country in the 1970’s.  It was likely a reaction to the lax dress codes of hippies more than for health or sanitation reasons.  It indicates a minimum responsibility on the part of the customer as per the requirements of the store to enter into business transactions together.

I wonder if the same logic applies to this business?
This indicates that we have certain expectations for you if you would like to be served.

It is not any different in the church than in a business.  We don’t have any signs up, but the same would likely apply for someone entering our sanctuary for worship.

A few years ago at another church, one of the worship leaders would take off her shoes when she led in singing.  While most seemed to be indifferent, there were a few comments made as to the impropriety of this action.  Some were uncomfortable, just as if someone wore a ball cap in the sanctuary.  The lack of footwear might make a difference if interpreted in light of God’s command to Moses to take off his shoes while he was on holy ground.

I don’t remember ever leading in worship where someone lacked a shirt.  It might be that I’ve given devotions at a youth pool party where this could have been the case, but none of those were in the sanctuary.  I do recall a youth minister who was asked to wear blouses to worship that were not quite so low cut!

We may have other expectations that are unspoken such as we expect those participating to be sober or to not disrupt the service.  While we might overlook a small child talking or a baby crying, the same behavior would not be indulged among the adults! It’s nice if everyone stays awake through the service but no one will be asked to leave if they fall asleep.

This allows us to think about God’s grace.  What are the limits, if any to God’s grace? What are our particular responsibilities in receiving it?  More importantly, what responsibilities do we bear in sharing it?  Do we place expectations on others before we are willing to tell the old, old story?

When we are called to serve the church as one of our membership vows, we do enter into partnership with the congregation in this service.  We are not expected to serve alone or on an island.

This Sunday, we’ll continue to explore the vows of membership as we look at what it means to serve.  Our scripture reading for consideration will be Genesis 18:16-33 which is a fascinating dialogue between Abraham and God on what is acceptable compassion versus judgment.  I would invite you to read it prior to Sunday's worship as we continue to look to Abraham as our example!

In Christ,


Photo by Joe Mabel (Photo by Joe Mabel) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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