I always heard as a child that it was important to dress in our Sunday best for church because Holy God deserves our very best . . . even in the clothes we choose to wear to worship. As a young tomboy the only time I would be caught in a dress was either because it was Sunday morning or because it was picture day at school. I knew my grandmother would complain if I didn’t wear a dress. My mother was raised on a farm in Spur, Texas, and on the farm denim was the dress code of convenience and affordability. Her opportunities to wear anything but denim were very much coveted, so she did not understand when her two daughters wanted to wear only denim. It was a new era and a complete shift in the cultural norm for her.
Jeans are my favorite. Always have been. Always will be. Jeans can be dressed down after a long day of work or dressed up for a night out on the town with friends. And, oh how finding the perfect pair is bliss!
My husband and I met at a really great church in Dallas several years ago. We worshiped on Sunday nights, and the space was filled with dimmed lights, candles, old cushy couches, and fantastic art created by many of the congregants. The setting made me feel an incredible sense of comfort on many levels and helped me to posture myself to receive God’s love and peace in a way I had never encountered before. And, we wore jeans.
Every Sunday, I looked forward to sharing worship with our church and having the opportunity to let the intensity of my life go for a period . . . and my clothes helped my mental mind do just that. I worked as a hospital chaplain throughout the week, and my work was intense. I was a professional in a professional setting wearing professional clothes and being pastor. Sunday evening was my turn to be “pastored.” I could come to church and sit, engage, worship and encounter Holy God, and my jeans were an expression of worship. I wanted and needed to be authentic in the presence of God.
Jesus models for us what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves and to value all people no matter what circumstances encircle them. Propriety and conformity rarely describe the ministry of Jesus. As the fullness of life wraps all of us in many joys and pains, space for authenticity is essential. God calls us to be ourselves fully and to love and share peace together with one another.
Now my current place of worship may not include dim lights, an array of pillar candles, comfy old couches and such, but I carry with me that sacred worship revelation. So, I wear my jeans. I don’t intend to be offensive to anyone. I am not seeking to be disrespectful in any way. I am simply doing my best to be authentic in the presence of Holy God…and my favorite pair of jeans helps me do just that.
by Jenni Fairbanks
Rev. Jenni Martin Fairbanks is a graduate of Truett Seminary at Baylor University (Waco, Texas) and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Belton, Texas). She spent a number of years as a hospital chaplain and is presently a stay-at-home mom who dabbles in professional organizing. She attends First Christian Church of Houston, Texas.