But that thought started going round and round in my head. And the Lord brought a question to mind:
"So do you dress up for Me, or do you dress up for the people at church to see you?"
Looking at that Kohl's catalog and having my own inner dialogue was God's way of showing me my true motives for buying my kids special Easter clothes each year. I was so quickly dismissive of spending money on an Easter dress for my daughter because of the fact that nobody else would see it. We probably won't be going to a physical church building on April 12th, so then it suddenly seemed like a waste of money to buy a new dress, revealing to me that - regardless of my previously stated, righteous-sounding rationales for dressing up for church - obviously those motives weren't really seeping deep into my heart and glorifying God.
To be clear, I am convinced that dressing up for Sabbath is a good thing to do, but it absolutely does not make God more or less pleased with you in and of itself. I think doing so helps to set apart the day as something special. It's a reminder to me that I should bring my best to God. Church is a special occasion, a weekly reminder and celebration of the wedding feast we will one day share with our Savior and Lord! Dressing up can help prepare the heart for church even before you get to the parking lot. And especially at a time like this, dressing up on Sunday morning to walk to my couch with my children and watch a sermon on Facebook is a very tangible liturgy to remind me that the Lord's Day is still special, important, and a priority for our family. And practically speaking, it creates a signpost for my children that we are going to be quiet and contemplative during the service so that we can all pay attention, worship, and learn. Church continues to be an anchor for us throughout each week, which without it will so easily bleed one into the next without any reminders of who I am in Christ.
I want to be especially clear that I'm not making a legalistic argument for dressing up for church. Perhaps others would have the same experience and be convicted that their idols lie in spending money they don't have in order to dress up, and maybe this should be a wake-up call to the fact that you don't need to - and therefore shouldn't - dress up so much for church when this quarantine is over. Or maybe you'll realize that you've been rather legalistic with your prescription to dress up for church and are now instead realizing that your heart of worship isn't truly affected by the way you dress. Perhaps some will use this experience to realize that dressing casually to go to their couch-church suddenly feels sloppy, lazy, and too much like every other day; so maybe their spirit will be encouraged to start dressing up for church time both now and when we return to physical church buildings. Or maybe your "trendy casual dress" is actually just your way of showing how fashionable you are with your non-work clothes and isn't really in an attempt to make the impoverished feel comfortable. And maybe you won't feel an ounce of conviction at all about this topic. I don't believe there is a specific right or holy answer. I think it's an opportunity to prayerfully reflect on why you choose to dress the way you do at church during normal Sunday worship and how you can - and should - therefore dress for this time of at-home church, remembering that all elements of our Sabbath day should help us recognize once again our need for the Savior. Ask the Lord to search you heart and tear down your idols.
So I did end up buying the dress for Elin. And I bought super cute matching outfits for the boys. I plan to use the outfit I bought for Jemma's baptism since now we'll have to wait for that until later. Derek will wear his special Easter tie like normal. And I'll spend some time finding something for myself. It doesn't matter whether I buy those outfits or just find them in our closet. But what the Lord revealed to me is that He is calling me to make the Sabbath special and holy, even in this time of living room services. And for me and my family, one way of doing that is by continuing to dress up. Only hopefully now, it won't just be for the wrong reasons.
*Image from https://www.momtastic.com/style/kid-style/392529-favorite-five-toddler-girl-easter-dresses/