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!