Why don’t you wear more vestments?
Yesterday we had our regular Q&A with David/congregational meeting. We try to do this every 6-8 weeks after the Sunday services. It gives me a chance to download things we are thinking about in a more relaxed setting and it gives you a chance to ask questions about why we do what we do at Restoration. I love these conversations. They remind me about your reflective thoughtfulness, your intentional choices, and your desire to grow in your relationship with God.
“Why don’t you wear more vestments?”
It’s a great question. In the Anglican tradition, clergy normally wear collars. (check!)
Often they will also wear a black cassock and a white surplice. Or a white alb with stole.
I normally just wear a suit with collar on Sunday mornings. My main reason is that the aesthetics of our worship do not require more vestments. I believe that what a pastor wears should be an enhancement to worship. It should help those in the congregation engage with God and not be a distraction. For some, they are helped by a pastor who looks totally different from them– thus the vestments. For me, I would be most comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt (and I am totally fine if that is what you wear!). However, I think it would be a distraction if I showed up in that: The congregation has to decide if they like the fact that I’m dressed that informally, do they like the brand I have chosen for my jeans and t-shirt, do they think I’m just trying to be cool? (I would literally like to be cooler– it gets hot in that collar.)
What I like about the collar is that I wear the same thing every week. The congregation knows what to expect. They just need to engage with the words I say and the God I follow, not the shirt I’m wearing.
Why don’t I wear more vestments? Practically, they are hot. Even more practically, they are expensive– ideally not only would the pastor wear them, but all of the communion servers. Even more ideally there would be matching vestments for the Lord’s table and covering the communion elements and maybe hanging from the ‘pulpit/music stand’…
We are a simple church trying to value beauty and community. It makes more sense to spend our money and energy on donut holes and coffee rather than vestments. That’s a choice that some will disagree with. But I think it allows us to live within our means and to value our common life together.
So wear whatever you want and come seeking to engage with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are lots of folks who want to get to know you.
May 18, 2009 @ 9:39 am
I vote for donut holes and coffee. Besides, the jelly filling can get on the vestments anyway. Right, Josh?
May 18, 2009 @ 11:01 am
There’s a lot i like about this post, David. First, i agree with Louise and can only guess what she means with her reference to Josh— but i’m prepared to laugh, no matter what. Just because.
Just because I usually do when Josh is involved.
But more seriously, your ideas about how and what we communicate with what we wear is spot on. You, certainly, as the up-front guy. Thanks for giving us more on that.
I think that the rest of us, as believers, should keep that (what we’re communicating with our attire) in mind anytime, but especially when we show up for worship. Ditto what you said about distraction potential and the virtual certainty that people will enter into a blink-long time of figuring out if they like your style/brand, if they can relate to you, if you’re worth listening to, etc. Humanity.
It’s important that we show up as who we genuinely ARE and what we value will come out, for good or not.
Back to what WE get to wear, i love it that some come in ties and heels, and i also love it that some come in jeans and sandals — even to read Scripture or serve communion. I think the more diverse our garb (within decency limits, of course), the easier we are to approach by the very diverse Arlington folk.
I’d love to hear what others think about all this—always open to change my opinions.
May 18, 2009 @ 12:34 pm
Some of us simultaneously value donuts and ties. Kudos to who ever made those tasty crepe things for the welcome table yesterday.
David, I think you would look classy in an embroidered chasuble, accessorized with a jelly-filled donut in one hand and censer in the other.
May 18, 2009 @ 1:07 pm
A jelly-filled donut in one hand and censer in the other… Sounds like Homer Simpson as an Anglican priest. I like it.
On a slightly more serious note, I appreciate this conversation and how it reflects the way we are trying to make practical choices and decisions in light of the values that we hold. “We are a simple church trying to value beauty and community”–that’s a powerful vision. It’s good to have these values held up in front of us, to have our attention called to them, again and again as we ALL make decisions about how we want to live as part of this community.
And since I spent much of the Ash Wednesday service worrying that David (in vestments) was about to light himself on fire, I’m in favor of the no-vestments decision anyway.
August 5, 2012 @ 3:10 pm
I actually think wearing no vestments is too individualistic and baptist-like. I’m a low-church Episcopalian, but you sound like a Reformed Presbyterian. Not a slam, just an observation.
August 5, 2012 @ 4:01 pm
Thanks Chris. No slam taken. I appreciate your comment.