Monday, September 03, 2007
From Robes to Jeans
I remember my first sermon. It was in 1980 and the typical dialogue sermon that was being tested in the Lutheran Churches. I attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran church and my senior year was the time when I and the preacher's son both did the positive negative sermon. The preacher's son and I were friends. We played football and wrestled together and got along well. He wanted the negative so we discussed the existence of God. Actually, it was a pre-written sermon so I only read what was written. I don't remember anything about the sermon, just that I didn't want to do it again.
In 1983 I was active in the Lutheran student center at Central Missouri State University. When the minister took a vacation someone preached for him. He always had trouble getting someone to do it. In 1982 the organist did it and I assisted. The minister caught flack because the organist was a woman and back then the Missouri Synod had not accepted female preachers. In 1983 he asked me to speak (better a student than an adult--even if she was a female????). I preached on Aaron and the Gold Calf. He told me I had a gift. I also wore the robes that were traditional for a person bringing the message to the church. I remember the armpit stains on the white robe. I was anything but pure but I remember the sermon. Once again I knew I did not want to do this again.
When I left the Lutheran church and was converted I remembered how the robes seemed to separate the "clergy" from the people. I never liked this but knew it was tradition. In the churches of Christ the preachers did not wear robes, we wore suit or sportcoat and tie. I told people that the preacher was one of us and didn't need to wear the clergy garb. Yet, as time went on I found out that we were expected to wear a suit/tie. That seemed to be the unwritten rule. Unfortunately we didn't look like most of the people in the seats. In fact when we had a suit on people thought we were preaching somewhere.
Now, I preach in jeans, sandals, an earring, and a simple shirt. I like it. I look like everyone else and there seems to be no distinction. I baptize in a shirt and swim trunks. I get wet like the person getting baptized. I guess I am finally consistent with my theology--Jesus lived among common people and became one of them. There was a guy who wrote a letter to a man named Diognetes in the first century. He said that the Christians looked like everyone else. You couldn't tell the difference outwardly between them and their neighbors. Morally, however, they reflected God's glory.
What a great time to focus on what matters, not what we look like.