'Other' to your brother
I had a really strange experience yesterday. I met my husband's business partner and his family for the first time. They do not know me but they have heard that I work for the church and I am at an Anglican theological college.
It became apparent that there had been preparation in the car on the journey for meeting me i.e. advice to curtail bad language from the wife to the husband, emphatic instructions about behaviour for the young children.
They said that I was not what they were expecting at all. What were they expecting?
He apologised very directly to me for saying 'shit'. I just couldn't help but laugh. They didn't mind me laughing and I told them how funny it was and a little embarrassing that they felt that they had to behave in a certain way to be in my presence.
Thankfully, this didn't last for long, and they were soon laughing too. You're so ordinary they said. Em - yep! You're not what we expected. I didn't really want to know what they did expect, so I didn't ask.
Now all of this was rather amusing but in some ways it was a little tragic too. The last thing I want to do is present this idea of barrier. I'm just as broken and messed up as the next person but perfect in Christ. I'm glad that my ordinariness makes me approachable. I think that they were quite relieved in the end about how ordinary I am and they said that the church needs more ordinary people - which I think is a compliment (?).
I was looking at my vicar deliver his sermon yesterday and became conscious of his gowns and it got me thinking. I wonder sometimes if these things are helpful. There are a mixture of reactions at college. One friend I spoke to said she's going to love the 'dressing up' bit - those gowns cover a multitude of sins (weight-wise). Then we had a rather bizarre conversation about the length of our necks and how really I was rather blessed to have a long one, she will find it hard to fit a dog-collar around hers. A few weeks ago, Bryony led prayer for my fellowship group and amongst other things we prayed focusing on a dog collar because many of the friends I have will be leaving to be ordained soon and that strange little bendy plastic thing just looked so weird and a bit hopeless on the floor next to the other much more colourful and dynamic objects and maybe that's the point...
The gowns and the collar conceal the person below so you are not looking at their body shape or what clothes they wear, how high their heals are or what design they have on the pocket of their trousers. You can focus more easily on Jesus (?). Can you?
But, another thought, isn't all of this disguising the body stuff a bit gnostic?
Jesus took his clothes off on Maundy Thursday and just wore a towel. His naked humanity was on view not for the first time in 24 hours. Now, I am not advocating that I will do my preaching in the buff- could be interesting! But really, all this did just get me thinking...
How comfortable do you feel in all your paraphernalia?
Okay, I know, it's not about you! In what way have you experienced other people's reactions to your paraphernalia?
Do you think the gowns and cassocks and dog collars are helpful?
How did the whole clothing thing get started? I mean, why the white collar? What does it actually signify? Teach me a thing or two.
Ordained Anglican. Thinking out loud about church.