Mother always made sure her six children attended church.
Mother didn’t drive in those days and we got to church the old fashioned way, on foot.
No matter the weather, we ducks marched single file behind mother (who pushed the youngest in a stroller) in a direction towards a stately steeple, our neighborhood lighthouse to guide the way.
A sanctuary of stained glass windows illuminated God’s love on a bright morning.
With only a piano, an organ and Brother Bob Allen leading our congregation into song and into prayer, mother and her six children took up an entire pew as we worshiped together dressed in our Sunday best.
Back in the old days you entered the sanctuary wearing your Sunday best befitting a Holy God, as He is worthy of our best.
Dresses and suits were the norm and come Easter,
Mother stretched an already tight budget for lace, bonnets and patent leather shoes;
An Easter tradition I passed onto my children…
A tradition my children passed onto theirs…
Becoming an adult years after my siblings and I followed mother on foot to church, did I begin to understand what Sunday best meant; which had nothing to do with clothes.
While it’s still honoring to worship a Holy God in our best of dresses and suits,
Our Sunday best is a reverent remembrance when Jesus gave his eternal best on an Old Rugged Cross one Easter weekend.
Our Sunday best is never forgetting the bitter cup of the cross which Jesus agonized over in the Garden of Gethsemane, who sweat drops of blood in his sorrow, though still surrendered in prayer to His Father on our behalf,
“Not my will, but yours be done.”
Our Sunday best is standing up in defense and defiance to an angry crowd who raised their fists against our innocent Lord to be crucified.
Our Sunday best can’t hardly stand the sight of soldiers scourging and flogging our Lord’s naked back, whose vile hearts spit on him while twisting a crown of thorns on his lovely head as they mocked,
“Hail, King of the Jews.”
Our Sunday best weeps and wails with arms stretched out towards a hill called Golgotha, as Jesus shoulders the weight of a sinful world on his scourged back while a man named Simon was forced to help him carry the cross which bore the criminal charges; Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
Our Sunday best fights to drown out the anguish though futile, the pounding of nails being driven into the hands and feet of our Lord to the cross, yet hears the Son cry out to His Father in love for those who crucify Him,
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Our Sunday best sees themselves on the crosses of those two criminals on either side of Jesus, justly serving sentences for their sins, yet one whose crimes would be forgiven, granting him eternity with Christ through the exchanges between these three,
One criminal rebuked to the other as he was mocking Christ,
“Don’t you fear God?
We are punished justly, but this is an innocent man.”
The same criminal looked over to Jesus,
“Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you will be with me paradise.”
Our Sunday best drops to their knees as Jesus, in shear anguish, laments to His Father in brokenness, a Father who couldn’t look upon His Son while bearing our sin in these hours of darkness, His Son paying the price with His life in our place,
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Then Jesus breathed His last…
Our Sunday best prostrates in this Holy moment when Jesus gave up His spirit, while at the same moment the earth shook and rocks split, the temple curtain rips in two from top to bottom and those guarding Jesus recognized,
“Surely, this is the Son of God.”
Our Sunday best remembers the heart of Joseph from Arimathea, a rich man petitioning the body of Christ from Pilate, to wrap his Lord in linen cloth and lay in the tomb for which Joseph purchased, sealing the entrance with an impenetrable stone.
Our Sunday best rejoices because three days later…
Three glorious days later…
Just as Jesus had told his disciples…
The tomb is empty…
Jesus rose from the dead on the Third Day.
The grave couldn’t hold our Risen Savior…
It should have been me, but Jesus bore the cross in my place. Our best rejoices every day of the week including Sunday, always remembering and never withholding
That Jesus lives today in the hearts of those who repent of their sins as the thief on the cross once did, being received into eternity when Christ says to the believer,
“You will be with me paradise.”