Our pastors wear robes.
Sometimes, when I'm getting dressed on Sunday mornings and spend all my time trying to find clothes for my children that are clean, I wish I could wear a robe.
I love singing hymns with a full choir and a large organ or piano. Maybe because I can't hear myself singing loud and off key. A little glimpse of Heaven.
Anyway, the fine Women's Ministry folk have started a devotional page just for men. not really, it's for women - but that would be funny.
And those fine women folk asked me to write this week's devotional. It's below, but you can also subscribe to it here. And you can read it in your robe. Win/win.
Growing up in the eighties and early nineties, I perhaps didn't clearly grasp the need for adequate sunscreen. I may have used Crisco. And I have indeed seen the inside of a tanning bed more than thrice. Now, at 41, I'm seeing the results of my solar misconduct firsthand. Upon first meeting my dermatologist, he took one look at my sun-damaged skin and said a little too excitedly, "Oh, you're going to be a good patient." Now he sends me Christmas cards from his lake house that I'm sure I've helped fund.
These days, epidermal-y speaking, we're taught to cover up. That, if we avoid exposing our delicate skin to the harsh rays of the sun, we will preserve it's tenderness and health. We use SPF 55, wear long, gauzy, sleeves in the burning heat, and don hats with brims the size of bistro tables. And, I'm wondering if we've begun to employ that practice in our relationships as well. I'm wondering if, in an effort to protect our delicate hearts and preserve their tenderness, we are covering them from exposure in our community of Christian women. Perhaps its a predisposition to self-protect, or perhaps we've been burned before and the sting and residual damage has caused us to reflexively pull our metaphorical sweaters a bit tighter over our shoulders. But the idea of being known isn't something we should fear - it's something we were created to long for. I talked to a new mom the other day at school and, when I asked how the adjustment to Dallas had been, she said, "You know, I've realized how important it is for us to be really known. That's been the hardest thing about moving - no one knows us."
Being known, in fact, is an extravagant gift of our Heavenly Father. First Corinthians 8:3 says, "But if anyone loves God, he is known by God" and as his body, the fact that we are not only completely known by our Father but even in our known-ness, we are absolutely beloved, brings us liberty without fear. And from that beautiful, primary relationship, we are able to literally overflow with a deluge of blood-bought love toward one another. Reckless, fearless, love.
The other day, I spoke at the Bridge and it terrified me. I told the women that I love to write but speaking, not so much. I feel exposed and I can't edit and I'm all too familiar with the verse, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." (Matt 12:34). I feared how what I said might expose what lied deep in my heart - how it might change perceptions of me. I cried and stuttered in front of a group of you. There was snot. And the evil surmising began the moment I walked out the door. "Why did you say that?" "For sure you offended someone with that comment!" "What in the world are people going to think of you now when they see you in church"! It was super-fun.
Opening up to one another takes practice and it's scary. I think we all fear friendly-fire and so it feels safer and even right to cover those parts of our lives that are tender, ugly, or different. But, I pray as I move forward - as we all move forward - in this church, I will resist the urge to protect and preserve my heart like shielding my skin from the harsh sun. Instead I hope to practice being known and knowing one another in the deep places of our souls that we might walk in transparent friendship and honesty. Our lights together in the body of Christ are brighter than our light alone - reflecting the Son.