Saturday, June 28, 2008

True cleanliness

Today’s Reading: John 13:11(NIV)

11 For He [Jesus] knew who was going to betray Him, and that was why He said not every one was clean.

Good morning!

My mother had a thing about cleanliness, especially on Sunday mornings. When I was a young girl growing up in the early “sixties,” Sunday mornings were celebrated as a holy day, set apart for worship and relaxation. All of our neighbors went to church on Sunday. We knew every neighbor on our street, which I think is a rare phenomenon now. If someone asked you the names of the folks living on your block, could you name them, along with their children’s names, and maybe tell a little bit about their family history? On our street, we not only knew our neighbors – we could tell you where they were attending worship on Sunday and approximately what time their cars would leave their driveways. Saturday nights were always spent preparing for Sunday. Everyone on our street retired early on Saturday night – it was rare to see living room lights on after 9pm. Mothers cooked a good portion of their family’s Sunday meal on Saturday afternoon. It would have been wrong to spend all day cooking in the kitchen on Sunday. That’s because Sundays were special. On Saturday night, we bathed, rolled our hair in pink sponge curlers, painted our finger nails, and laid out our “Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes” which included hats, gloves and black patent shoes. My father owned one Sunday suit, and he wore it faithfully each week. I would watch him as he pulled on his neck collar during the pastor’s sermon every Sunday morning. I truly don’t think Daddy enjoyed wearing a tie and jacket all that much.

In 2008, we advertise our worship services with church marquees and slogans that say “Come as you are!” In the last fifty years, US culture has made a complete 180° turn in the time-honored traditions of personal preparation and cleanliness for Sunday morning worship. We don’t seem to care nearly as much about how folks are dressed or whether they’ve bathed and shaved before walking through the sanctuary doors. It is our hope that people simply care enough to get out of bed on a day they could have chosen to sleep in, to come and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not nearly as important to come clean to church. It’s much more important to come clean at church, where we lay down the dirty baggage of our personal guilt and shame at the foot of the cross. We find healing and wholeness in the presence of the Lord. This is the place where true cleanliness occurs.

When we prepare to purchase a new automobile, our eyes are often drawn to the exterior. Is this vehicle a make and model which we find personally appealing? How many added accessories can we get for the least amount of money? Is the chrome shiny and does this vehicle have that “new car” scent? Would we purchase an automobile solely based upon the condition of the exterior, without first checking to be sure this car has an engine that actually works? Would we not want to pop the top and take a look on the inside first? No matter how clean and shiny we may be on the outside, we must first be concerned about the condition and reliability of the interior.

How did Jesus know who would betray Him? The answer to this question is not nearly as difficult as one may think. Christ looks beyond our exterior; He reaches past our motivations and traditions, our culture and complacency; Christ looks underneath the hood to see our heart’s innermost desires and motivations. He offers complete restoration for every human soul. Jesus can do a complete overhaul if we will simply let Him. Come to Christ just as you are; He will clean you up from the inside out. I’ll see you at Faith Church!

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO


© Copyright 2008, Deb Spaulding

All rights reserved

Articles may not be printed in any “for profit” publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles. Articles are sent originally to subscribers only. You may have received a forwarded or reprinted copy.

No comments: