By Rev. Debra Jene Collum
Chatfield United Methodist
In my part of the world, summer began this year when I opened the doors to the costume room at Potter Auditorium in Chatfield. I have been given the privilege and respons-ibility to create the costumes for the summer musical put on by WITs’ End Theatre.
A lot of work goes into changing each person that stands on stage and delivers their lines into the character they are meant to be portraying.
The stage gets turned into a wonderful set by builders and designers which gives the actors a sense of place and context. The director guides each actor patiently night by night until these persons become one with the character they are becoming. The voice coach helps them sing with meaning, the dancing instructor turns feet into magical movement, the musicians provide the depth that creates a sound that fills in all the pieces and weaves it together into a whole.
And then me, the costume designer, takes fabric and trim, and Velcro and glue, and needle and thread, to create costumes. Costumes which transform an ordinary individual into a wizard, a princess, a knight… To me it is like magic happens, with the swish of a skirt and a flip of a cape, the character dives, even more deeply, into their part.
In our everyday lives, clothes also help us define a bit of who we are. It would be awkward to weld in an evening gown just as much as it would be somewhat disrespectful to go to the opening gala at the opera in sweatpants.
In our spiritual lives, the Christian scriptures tell us that when we declare ourselves followers of Jesus, we put on the clothing of righteousness; which simply means following the ways of God in all that we do.
In the early church, it was customary to give newly baptized Christians new clothing. This garment was to symbolize that they have made a choice and commitment to live and act in a new way. A way that others would notice. A way that mimics the life and teaching of Jesus the Christ. Who always seemed to act in ways that made others uncomfortable!
Jesus loved people others didn’t think should be loved. Jesus honored people others thought were shameful. Jesus ate with people who others wouldn’t be seen around, let alone share a table with.
The clothes we wear as people who follow Jesus, should, like Jesus, make us stand out a little. These clothes should give us permission to love more deeply than is normal. To accept others more freely than society thinks is appropriate. To actually interact with those others think are unworthy.
Christianity isn’t meant to be a way of life that is hidden or done in secret. We are wearing garments that should get us noticed. Garments that create the possibilities of being fully human as we are created to be, fully alive to God’s way of love, fully willing to be all that God created us to be. For we are, at our baptism, dressed in the robes of righteousness that Christ gives us through the power of Holy Spirit. Wear them with humble pride.
WITs’ End will be performing “Once Upon a Mattress” August 5,6,7 and 11,12, 13.