Sunday, 12 March 2017

Well dressed



It has been a day off. Simple pleasures; a good breakfast, a little walk, an afternoon watching England beat Scotland handsomely, time hunkered down.

It is in the ordinary things that we often find greatest thankfulness. George Herbert, poet and priest, wrote of prayer in a whole series of word pictures in his wonderful poem Prayer. In one such run of phrases he describes prayer as 'heaven in ordinary' and 'man well dressed'. 

In Paul's letter to the church in Colossae, he suggested something ordinary and radical in one and the same sentence. He suggested that we 'put on' or 'clothe ourselves' in the character of Christ.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. (Colossians 3.12)

As we dress for ordinary days or extraordinary days, may we find this kind of well-dressed character becomes habit, not just an act.

Here is Herbert's poem to reflect upon. It is a feast for Lent.

Prayer, the Church's banquet, Angels' age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth;
Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days'-world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
The land of spices, something understood.


  1. Celtic Christianity speaks of "thin places" where heaven meets earth. They also had prayers for all the ordinary tasks of the day including milking the cow, stoking the fire, cleaning the house. God was present in all the ordinary things of life, and, in them heaven meets earth.

    So I thought I would have my first go at writing a Celtic style prayer based on the ordinary things I have done today and Colossians 3v.12.
    What ordinary things have you done today to add to this prayer?

    When walking to church
    and singing hymns,
    clothe me, Lord, with humility.

    When cooking dinner
    and washing the dishes,
    clothe me, Lord, with patience.

    When ironing the clothes
    and writing a letter,
    clothe me, Lord, with kindness.

    When listening to music
    and talking with friends,
    clothe me, Lord, with compassion.

    When watching the tele
    and resting at home,
    clothe me, Lord, with meekness.

    When awake,
    when asleep,
    clothe me, Lord, with love.

  2. What a wonderful prayer. Here is mine based on the one above.

    When preparing for the week and facing cuts
    Clothe me, Lord, with patience

    When listening to hurting hearts and innocent children
    Clothe me, Lord, with compassion

    When making decisions and helping with choices
    Clothe me, Lord, with humility

    In prayer, in speech and actions
    Clothe me, Lord, with meekness

    When visiting the lonely and those in need
    Clothe me, Lord, with kindness

    In all that I think, do and speak
    Clothe me, Lord, with love.

    Here are some verses about clothing from the Bible(

    Isaiah 61:10

    I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

    Matthew 6:31-33

    Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

    Ephesians 4:22-24

    To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    1 Peter 3:1-5

    Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

    Matthew 6:25-34

    “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ...

    Psalm 104
    Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved...

    Matthew 22:11-14

    “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”