shopping

Why I'm Wearing an Old Dress for Easter+Why Clothes Matter to God

Friends, a little different post today. I saw Jesus hanging on that cross----and then the Roman soldiers below---shopping for his clothes. It has moved me profoundly----to this. (Please read to the end. I think it will be worth it!)





       This Easter morning, as I get ready for church, I’ll choose something old from my closet. It may or may not be springy and bright. I love clothes, and I’m neither a party pooper nor a hair-shirt ascetic, but I don’t want new clothes for Easter this year.




          I know as well we’re not to worry about our clothes. When we waste our time and strength in fretting over what we’ll wear, Jesus points us to our favorite Easter flower---the lilies in their lovely skirts---to remind us of his lavish care.  ‘Not even Solomon in all His glory was clothed as one of these.”  He could have pointed to a thousand other flowers or creatures, just as brilliantly dressed. The peacock in its turquoise plummery. A maple tree aflame with orange in the fall. Rainbows shimmering on the flanks of trout And the lesson of it all? That God loves His creation and He clothes them in color and beauty. And if he expends this much care on the grass and flowers who are “here today and gone tomorrow,” won’t he care about our needs as well?



He does indeed! God has been dressing us from the very beginning. When Adam and Eve slunk from the garden in fig leaves, God graciously covered them with animal skin. When he established the Temple, his house among his people, God dressed the priests in holy attire, from the seamless woven tunic underneath, to their robes, breastplate, ephod, all to fit and cover them in their unique role as chosen intercessors between God and man. The Temple itself was adorned with lush curtains of scarlet, gold, purple and blue, a covering to veil sinful man from a holy God.




God delights in clothing his creation, his temple and his people with protection and beauty. He himself is “dressed in light as a garment,” yet he chose none of this splendor or covering for himself.  When God’s son was born, he was birthed in a barn, wrapped in strips of linen, laid in a feeding trough. As a man, he dressed in the robes of a carpenter, a common man who “had no form or appearance that we should desire him.” In his short life, he wore raiment fit for his station only once. It was a hideous scene.
Stripped of his clothes, the soldiers hooted as they draped a king’s robe over his broken shoulders. They bowed in ridicule. They saluted in satire. They missed how well the robe fit. Hours later, when Jesus was pinned nearly naked to the cross, the guards below him did not see him. They were bent to their game instead, gambling for his garment.





Jesus has given them everything they need. He has healed people with no hope of healing. He has touched dead bodies so they climbed out of the coffin; He has taught truths so piercing that closed, selfish hearts were opened. Even then, in that hour, he is giving his body, his life, for them. He is dying now to dress them in robes of righteousness. But these Roman soldiers are busy. They are shopping. They know they need clothes, but they’ve chosen the wrong ones. And they do not recognize the seamless tunic at their feet as the holy garb of a priest. The man dying above them is giving them life. They only want new clothes.


If I had been there that day, I like to think I’d be standing with the grieving women, but I suspect I too might have been rolling dice. I know the value of clothes. I spent my childhood dressed in out-of-style homemade dresses, holey underwear and boys shoes and boots that brought mockery from my classmates. I went to college with my entire wardrobe in a single carryon suitcase. I learned how to be crafty with my clothes, how to disguise my true poverty. Because of this, I love new threads probably more than others.  I love the confidence that comes from dressing well, from covering the past.







          And I have learned that dressing well need not be selfish. Our garments can be a gift to others. When we dress modestly, we’re loving our neighbors. When we wear our best for weddings, funerals, graduations, we honor our friends and family, give shape, form and color to our hopes and intentions for those who are rejoicing or grieving. We dress, at times, to disappear, to let others take the stage. We dress to adorn the day, to bring color and beauty to the spaces we inhabit. All good.




      

But I still see them there, the soldiers. Their focus on that garment on the ground kept them from seeing Jesus, who was dying to give them clothes of a different kind.





          The story of Easter clothing does not end there, of course. Jesus went to the cross as our priest. His tunic was not torn—it remained perfect, intact, allowing the curtain in the temple to be torn, top to bottom, giving us access to our holy God. After that, Jesus’ lifeless body was lowered from the cross, tenderly swaddled in cloths, so much like his birth. Then entombed and left to rot, as all flesh and cloth must do. But we know what happens. On the third day, Mary and the disciples stumble into a cave empty of all but the grave clothes, still there, neatly folded, as if Jesus just passed right through them. In that pile of cloth in the tomb , we are given the final word: We’re leaving when we die. And our clothes aren’t going with us. 




We wont’ need them of course. Because of Christ, we are covered, saved, and dressed right now in His own clothes. We’re dressed so fully and so gorgeously, Isaiah sings out exuberantly, He has clothed me with garments of salvation! He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels!” 














        And Christ is not done dressing us. He died to clothe us in righteousness. He has risen to dress us in eternal life. Our wardrobe is complete.




         Come Easter morning, I’m going to sing my voice to the rafters of the church. I’m going to invite as many as will fit at my Easter dinner table, and I plan to dress beautifully for the day. Beautifully meaning, in the raiment of hope and joy. I don’t have to spend money for that. Some will go to church that morning shining in new dresses, new suits, pretty hats. Bless you all and how lovely you will look!











          But this year, for me, I won’t be needing new clothes to make me happy, to hide my past, to honor the occasion, to adorn the church, even to remind me that death is conquered. By dressing simply this day, it will keep me from looking around at what others are wearing, wondering where they bought it, how much it cost. 
I don’t want to shop. 
I’d rather be looking up at the cross, 
        at who hung there, 
at that empty tomb, 
         at who sprung from there, 
at those empty grave clothes, 
          who rose from there. 
I’ll be happy in my old clothes, knowing how rich I am. Knowing I’m already dressed as lavishly as a bride, and still one more robe to come—eternal life! 





My wardrobe is complete.
Your wardrobe is complete!

(I can't wait to see you in your gorgeous eternal clothes!!)

For the whole article, go to In Touch magazine here