John 1:16-18

On the glass door that leads into the chapel, there is an oval, pink sticker with the silhouette of a nineteenth-century Victorian dress straight out of Little Women. The caption reads “Modesty matters.” If you look through the door at the wall behind the pulpit at just the right angle, you can also see a naked man dying on a cross. If the central story of your faith is an execution, how can the words that welcome people to worship be “Modesty matters”?

The service was so modest that I felt out of place wearing a short-sleeved red shirt. Most of the service was in Latin. Most of our time was spent on our knees. We recited creeds I thought I knew until I heard people who really know them recite them. The piano was covered with a sheet—which either meant they were protecting it from dust or such music was off-limits. 

Worship is a different experience for different people at different times, but that day I needed to receive “grace upon grace,” and the liturgy offered merely modesty and restraint. Decorum can be good, but it should not keep us from celebrating the fullness that comes from the heart of God.

Jesus calls us to unreasonable, head-over-heels, fall-down-at-his-feet devotion. Grace and truth lead beyond modest faith to extravagant love. 

Jesus was not who the guardians of the law expected him to be. He broke the rules. They pushed him to agree to orthodox beliefs. He challenged them. They wanted him to only associate with people like them. Jesus insisted on grace that welcomes everyone. 

We may want to follow a set of ideas, but Jesus says we have to follow him. 


How does your faith lead you beyond modesty to Christ?


God, in a world of religion, help me be a person of grace. In a world of reticence, teach me to give. In a world of despair, show me how to hope. Amen.

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