December 24th was a Sunday this year. My congregation celebrated morning worship, despite also having three evening — Christmas Eve — services on offer. Christmas Eve worship, though, isn’t the same kind of thing, the same sort of liturgy, as Sunday worship. I like that through three separate pastors we continue to hold Sunday worship even during the special days of Christmas.
In a concession to the season, and to practicality, our congregation held just one morning service instead of our usual two. The start time split the difference between our usual starting times. And we were invited to attend in our PJs.
Sunday morning I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror as I brushed my teeth, wearing my actual PJs and bathrobe. Nope. Non-starter. Not gonna roll to church like this. I decided on a seasonal thermal shirt, and a bra, and some aging yoga pants… me wearing yoga pants when I’m not exercising is pretty close to pajama-wearing, I thought.
That done, I mused about my aversion. I am one of the more Girl-Scout-y Girl Scouts I know, still willing to forgo bathing at camp despite being nearly 50. What’s bedhead when you’re with those you’re close to? I have worn, and will wear, ratty, muddy clothes in all sorts of circumstances, and behave the same way I would if I were in a suit. So what’s wrong with PJs to church?
Today I think it’s this:
There was a time when I, mentally and emotionally, was unable to get all the way to clothes. I went from PJs to clean PJs when the ones I was in got too ripe even for me. Depression had me pinned, one arm across my chest, and while I might periodically manage bathing, actual clothes were a bridge too far.
In the mental hospital, street clothes were a privilege for those who had themselves together. ‘Together’ in a don’t-curse-the-staff way; our bar was naturally low. But it was an acknowledged bar nonetheless.
Proper clothes equal good-functioning brains. Even when those brains are not actually functioning well, therapists and patients agree that getting the clothes on is a move in the right direction, a move worth making. “Fake it until you make it,” or operating as-if, begins with getting dressed.
For worship, my time to act on the “chief end of man” and “glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” I also want to celebrate God delivering me from illness. For that, I choose clothes.
But in honor of my community, the clothes I wore were yoga pants. For Christmas Eve, I could return to the old-school Sunday dress-up I’m known for.