Robed Expectations

As I sit here this morning I realize that I have only three more weeks of preaching left in my current appointment. It is a pretty overwhelming thing to consider. However, as I sit here this morning I am also thinking a lot about robes. Yes really….robes….clergy robes in fact.

I am sitting here thinking about them because over the next several months as we transition from summer to fall I have some real decisions to make. For many of you who may read this it may seem very silly and not really worth the time that I am spending thinking about it and I understand that viewpoint. I simply ask you to try and understand mine.

Last night I went to the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission to worship, preach, and fellowship. Ginny went with me for the first time. She was amazed at the great work being done there and was very happy that she was able to go and witness it. 

On the way home she made a statement that has stuck with me. It is a statement that I continue to wrestle with this morning. She told me that the venue we were in was one that truly brings out the best in me. She was talking about the message I shared. 

I laughed it off and simply said it is because there are “no rules and no one to worry about making upset”. We went home and didn’t discuss it anymore. However, I haven’t really stopped thinking about it. 

In my offhanded comment there was a lot of truth. As I look over the last 10 years of my ministry I often wonder how many times I have allowed myself to be stifled because of the expectations or more truthfully the perceived expectations of others.

I have had conversations with each of my Staff Parish committees over the years about how I dress or my style. In each of those situations I was the one who gave in it seems in some way or another. “After all what is most important my style or the message, ” was the rationale I used. 

While I still agree with that rationale my wife’s words are haunting me today. What if I have been limiting my effectiveness in delivering the message because I am so worried about what other people will think about my style or my dress.

I am spending a lot of time thinking about this today  I am starting in a new church in a few weeks. The tradition is that the pastor is robed during the 11 am worship service every week from September until June. I currently own one robe it is the only robe I have ever owned and would like to retire one day being able to say the same thing. 

Now understand it is not about the robe to me it is about who God is and who I am. God could have called a million different people instead of me to this ministry that I am involved in. Yet he called me. Why? Was I called to bring my experience and my gifts to a world that needed them? I think then answer is yes without question.

I suppose the problem for me is my called so tied into my personal style that I can’t change  in any way. Again without question I think the answer to that is no.  So where does that leave me, it leaves me struggling and searching. 

I am about to start the exciting next step in my ministry. I am going to be able to be involved with and perhaps help start campus ministry. I am going to be able to reach people that I feel as if the church has ignored for too long. Yet I am stuck today in this silly little moment. Worrying about a robe.
By tomorrow this will all seem trivial I am certain. Today, however it is a time for soul searching on what it means to be called.
Or maybe I just hate robes!



One thought on “Robed Expectations

  1. Kim Wecht says:

    I know this reply is late in the game, but I had wanted to catch you at Conference and wasn’t able to. I think it is very important to be your “authentic self” – true to who YOU are. If you don’t and instead work to conform to someone else’s expectations of you/your position then it will be reflected in your preaching and leadership (unintentional or intentional) – as already evidenced by Ginny’s comment.
    I have tried too many years to try and be someone others want me to be and not who I am and God and CPE has helped me realize I need to be who God created and gifted me to be. They don’t want a woman? Sorry that is who I am. They want a comedian and an entertainer? That is also not who I am and that is okay. I am gifted as I am as well.
    You bring gifts to the Worship service/preaching and who knows how many people have been touched because you were yourself . I am not against robes – and in these churches I wear one, I also see how they can be a barrier to some who see them and see us in them as unapproachable. It is why I chose not to wear one in my previous church.
    Maybe a compromise is needed here – discuss this with your soon-to-be SPRC over the Summer and maybe you can agree to wear a robe on Communion Sundays and other “special” Sundays like that and the remainder of the Sundays preach/lead Worship as you are comfortable doing so. Then see how it goes – you may just be surprised (and SPRC as well) about how maybe the robed expectations aren’t as important as once thought.
    On another note, I am so happy that it seems from your posts you see your calling not only to Glassboro UMC but also to Rowan. My one step-daughter graduated from there this year and my other one will graduate next year and I missed not having a Baccalaureate service and a Invocation/Benediction at the Graduation (a professor did give “these”, but they were pep talks not prayers). It spoke to me of the absence of a spiritual presence on campus which is a loss to the students.
    God bless you on your move and as you continue to reflect and discern what to do about the robe – being your authentic self does matter which is why I decided to comment.

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