Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Cross and the Clerical Collar

Stories like this are a dime a dozen, and I think I've blogged about this before (and even if I haven't, others have), but here's yet another reason pastors should consider wearing their clerical collars, or if they prefer not to, at least refrain from judging us who do...

I was in a hurry. I needed to drop into the hospital, visit my parishioner, and get out so I could get on with the half-a-million other tasks that awaited me. But first, a quick visit to the restroom. Only I was intercepted on the way. "Reverend," said the woman, but then she hesitated. "Well, I hate to bother you. It's just..." More hesitation. "It's just, my best friend is in a coma. I just really need someone to come and pray for her." The restroom would have to wait. So would the half-a-million other tasks. Even so would my own parishioner have to wait, just a little longer. I went with the woman to the room of her friend. We prayed. We talked about Jesus and the hope we have in Him (and yet it seems a bit irreverent to log on to some website and record this on a counter as a "critical event"). I gave the Lord's benediction. And none of this would have happened if I hand't been wearing my collar. "I'm sorry I bothered you," said the woman as I was about to leave. "That's okay. That's why I wear a uniform," I assured her, as I left to go to my own parishioner. (Don't worry, I made it to the restroom before any other "critical events").

I don't like wearing my clerical collar. I know a common objection to wearing them is that the collar goes to the pastor's head. That may be true in the beginning, when the first year seminarian puts it on for the first time. But I'd just as soon not wear it. It draws too much attention. It is a cross, worn on the sleeve. And it causes interruptions... Interruptions like a woman who just needs a reverend to come and speak God's Word and express the wordless prayers she knows and feels in her heart. That's why I wear the uniform, whether I want to or not.

3 Comments:

Blogger Chris & Julie said...

Jon,

Your right. Clerical collors are a cross. Never really thought about it that way, but as I sit here and thinka about the first couple months of service to our Lord, your so right. "I just as soon not wear it." Thanks for the insight

Chris

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

I've been praying about wearing a collar. I'm in a non-liturgical tradition. I don't want to wear one, but God is speaking to me about it. How can you fight the call of God, huh? I'd be the only pastor on my conference wearing one.
I'm here in Michigan and enjoy you blog.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Pastor Krenz said...

Thanks for the comment, Zeke, and thanks for reading my blog. Wearing the clerical colar, or not wearing it, is a free thing, neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture (as I'm sure you well know). But I would contend that it is a helpful thing for clergy to wear. It identifies us to others, and reminds us of the office we bear, an office which overshadows the individual in the office. It takes us out of ourselves. People instinctively know that the man in the collar speaks Christ's Word (or at least hopefully he does).

Lutherans have traditionally retained clerical garb as useful, though a matter of freedom. But in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in recent years, some have felt it necessary to bind consciences on both sides of the issue. While I'm sure there are those on the side of wearing the collar who seek to bind consciences (I'm not one of them), there are many more on the side of throwing the collars aside who think we who wear them are just arrogant and want to draw attention to ourselves. First of all, nothing could be further from the truth as far as drawing attention to one's self is concerned. Second of all, if wearing a collar is a free thing, and could be beneficial, as in the case I indicate in the post, then these anti-clerical-collarists should neither judge me nor bind my conscience. That's essentially what I meant to say when I wrote this post.

Thanks again for your comment. The Lord be with you.

1:13 PM  

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