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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

11 October 2013: Joyce Perry, Petersfield United Reformed Church

"Clothes make the man" - and woman!

Recently a Muslim woman attracted media attention for refusing to remove her niqab (face-veil) at a public Court hearing. It set me thinking.

How would I have reacted 'face to face' with her, involved in making judgements of right and wrong, truth or falsehood? Would a pair of eyes, however expressive, tell me all I needed to know? What about her mouth and general expression?

Then I wondered what guides our choice of clothing when we get ready to go out into the world. Do we try to persuade the people we meet that we are attractive or rich? Do you proudly wear a uniform? Am I a follower of fashion or content in something familiar and comfortable (i.e. old)?

Sometime long ago, I found myself visiting very different places. I might go to an inner-city church group, a formal business meeting, or join locals and commuters in an attractive village. I tried to dress appropriately for each so that I would feel at ease and accepted by the people there. I hope I was not pretending to be someone different each time! What will govern your choices next time you get ready to go out?

The Muslim woman I started with made one big decision that freed her from further choices, though separating her from many fellow citizens. In Jesus I see someone who, while always true to his own nature, mixed and conversed freely with everyone he met - rich, poor, powerful, rebellious, men, women, children. He too got into trouble with the authorities but he left us a legacy of hope and example.

 

This article was submitted for publication in the Petersfield Herald on 11 October; it is possible that it was published earlier or may be published later.

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