Problems about the Lord's supper
In my church we had Lord's Supper recently. Usually I wear a sober dress and straw colour hat. As I was preparing for the Lord's Supper, I was thinking about the expectation there is in our congregation to wear black, especially when we attend the Lord's Supper. I decided not to because the Lord's Supper isn't a sad but joyous occasion. Still, someone afterwards made a nice comment about it to me and pointed out from a Dutch book that we should wear black during the Lord's Supper celebration. What are your thoughts about this?
I don't personally know what the reason is that our Dutch fore-fathers stressed the necessity of black. In one of the Dutch Psalms it uses the word "black" where our English uses "mourning." Ps. 42:9 "Why go I mourning (Dutch, black) because of the oppression of the enemy?" Perhaps that is the Scripture background of their emphasis on black. Black is my least favorite colour! Yet that's what we are expected to wear since it is a colour of dignity which to some extent is so even in the general public's eye.
Does that mean, however, that we need to wear "black" as believers, especially at the occasion of a joy? For you are right that the Lord's Supper is the pre-marriage supper. The Puritans referred to it as the "engagement meal" of Christ and His people. That is an occasion of joy; not a funeral or a time of mourning. Therefore I don't agree that we need to wear black at the Lord's Supper as if we are to emphasize that we are mourning. The death of the Lord Jesus is a cause of joy, rather than grief. Our sins are the reason we need to mourn but isn't the Lord's Supper emphasizing the forgiveness of these sins? Isn't that an occasion of joy? The joy I am speaking about it not a trivial or jovial joy; it is the spiritual joy which flows from feasting on the truth that He gave His life for my sins and also that He is committed to love me in spite of all my shortcomings. That's no reason to hang down the head but to "be glad, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart" (Ps. 32:11).
Therefore it is not necessary to change your hat to black when it comes to the Lord's Supper time. Isn't every church service "holy" as we are in the presence of God and His angels? Is the Lord Jesus "nearer" in the service where the sacrament is administered than in the service where it is not? Do we also wear a black hat when it is baptism? The answer is obvious. He uses the sacraments to visibly display what He audibly makes known through the preaching. Therefore I find it objectionable when people change their clothing habits when it comes to the Lord's Supper. I know that people don't mean it hypocritically but for "outsiders" it does seem like that. It can also contributes to an unhealthy spiritualism surrounding the Lord's Supper which often becomes a hindrance in the celebration of the truths which are there displayed and sealed.
That doesn't mean to say that we shouldn't have "Sunday clothing." Farmers wear overalls on the farm; police have their uniform for their job. We don't wear a three-piece suite when we go on a hike. Each occasion has its own appropriate clothing. Therefore I think we need to emphasize that a church service calls for appropriate clothing which shows respect, an understanding of the sacred nature of the place and being in God's presence. When we visit an important person, we clothe for the occasion; therefore when we meet God in His house, we also are to meet for the occasion. Your choice of clothing, however, doesn't need to change from the "regular" Sunday when it the Lord's Supper. It should be appropriate each church service.
The principle which you are to live by is also charity. When people are offended at your "freedom or liberty" Rom. 14 instructs us how we are to act. What you did was in my opinion not wrong but if many people are going to be upset about this, you are to restrain your freedom and not to offend them. So you might want to ask a few other people within the fellowship on how they felt about. If people do think you did something wrong, then be patient with these "weak believers" (as Rom. 14 refers to them) and gently instruct them in the right principles.
I hope that this answers your question somewhat. Thanks for you question.
Warmly, Pastor Vergunst