Monday, December 31, 2007

"Over Rev" faking the big one

It may have something to do with Jesus saying
"Don't let anyone call you Teacher, Reverend or Rabbi..."

Or "Reverend is His name alone..." (psalm 111:9)...

........or my fear of Norm

And/or the "Reverend Neverend Jokes"..

But it's may be mostly my style; I am just Dave..

I have never been comfortable with the title "reverend"...or any title, really. St. Paul (oops, Paul, the saint) didn't seem be either. We call him "The Apostle Paul," but though he was entitled to, he never called himself that: "Paul (comma), an apostle."

And with with dash or irony, I let folk call me "Just Dave," enjoying the double meaning..If I can admit I am "just" (as in 'righteous'...)

Anyway, my son had to snap this pic of

me by an "Over-Rev" sign..

..when i start acting too big for my britches; I'll look at it.
I don't want to overly rev(erend)erential.

Note the clerical (Charlida bought me it on our last Israel trip) T-shirt I am wearing.
(Yes, I often lead worship in that shirt.

AND the liturgical pants I am wearing.

Sometimes even the T-shirt Nathan brought me from the future)

Hey, This is not at all to judge how others operate and dress...some of my best friends are Revs, and Right Revs, even.
Some of my favorite pastors and priests wear clerical garb, more power please, to them.
And I will shock some of them that not long ago I wore this for a funeral:

That is not photoshopped!
Read all about why I dared to don it.

Once a pastor friend needed a costume for a skit so they could look like a they asked to borrow:

My black preaching robe.

I knew my life was about to change.

No wonder my dress is for sale on e-Bay...
Read all about it:



I had been busted.

Immediately plunged into crisis by a simple question.

I intuitively knew that my answer to the simple, straightforward question would change my life. But for the life of me, I had no clue what the answer would, could or should be. The question was innocent and innocuous enough, but any answer would inevitably undress and unveil me as guilty. And it was not a “yes or no” question, but an open essay question. I had to actually talk; I had major explaining to do. But I was numbfounded and nailed. And busted big time.

The practical, provocative question that the bold asker asked, with equal parts “This is so bizarre; I really need to know” look in his eyes, and “I’m not sure I want to know” fearful waver in his voice? Read on, but only if you can handle the truth and whole truth (so help you, God) about me. Hold your breath..and if possible, your judgement. And don’t call the cops on me…yet. The life-rearranging question at hand:

“Pastor, If you don’t mind my asking…

...Why are you wearing a .....


No, that was not my body thudding the floor (though it was tempted in that direction), but the involunatarily and (hopefully) inaudible thud- gulp of simultaneous terror and relief that anyone whose secret, addiction, or sin has just been unceremoniously uncovered recognizes. I attempted to match my questioner’s bravery by looking him squarely in the eye; knowing I couldn’t opt out or cop out with a “Hey, I’d love to answer that sometime soon, but right now….wouldn’t you know it, it’s the darndest thing….. I feel a heart attack coming on. In fact, it feels like the ‘Big One.’ Say, would you mind calling 911?”

Oddly, in the midst of all this frantic and futile nanosecond daydreaming of escape-scenarios, one of my immediate reactions was admiration for this man’s bold honesty in even asking. Not so oddly, another reaction was praying desperately for every fire alarm on the block to suddenly sound, or at least forJesus to come back. I knew I had no… good… answer. I nervously wiped my hand across my..uh, dress… and resigned myself to the inevitable: I had been outed. Confession time. I mustered all my inner reserves and resources; swallowed my pride and my earlier thud-gulp, and managed an initial:


“Uh…well..,” My articulate non-answer uneloquently began. I made a fairly smooth (I hope) recovery; kept a reasonably straight and stoic (yeah, right!) face; though I knew I didn’t have anything to say to justify myself; to redeem my situation..or my incriminating clothes. Busted indeed.


But before you call the counselors or cops on me, hear
out the “rest of the story.” Starting with the prequel; the gentlemen’s first question to me, as he shook my hand (and my world):

"Pastor, I loved the service...But I can ask one question?"

Like the holy fool (more on that moniker later) I was, I stupidly shot back a surefire “Sure!,” oblivious to the bomb about to drop.

Context: I had been doing the traditional pastoral "greeting everyone at the exit door" thing; like I had hundreds of times before; like thousands of pastors have done. You know: shaking hands with visitors, hugging the saints (sinners, too!), kissing

babies, passing out cigars (OK, just kidding on that one!) hearing quick confessions and the requisite "Great sermon, Pastor," ….like most mainline church pastors are “job-descriptioned” into. It was maybe 1993….many moons and wineskins ago... when I was happily pastoring as an "underground evangelical missionary" in a denomination that “overground” was mainline, mainly sidelined… and mainly apostate. Despite the challenges, part of what I really enjoyed about being such a stealth Jesus-preaching pastor in a largely derailed denomination (many of my peer pastors were preaching anything but Jesus….from an easily digested Reader'sDigestism to all-out outright worship of Sophia…if worship of anyone at all!), but because the "official" doctrine was solid, and because I was called to that particular tribe, I was able to stay; taking much-needed encouragement from Paul’s model for such ministry: "becoming all things to all people that I might save some."


So, as much as I could in good
conscience, I went native; in many, if not all, things related to church culture-custom. And some were saved. I acculturated myself into the mainline expectations and roles. For example, it was not technically required, but an unwritten expectation/”rule” in this tradition that most pastors worth their salt and seminary would wear pastoral robes or clerical collars; at least for “official” worship services. I was never comfortable submitting to the former (but did for my first few years, as I felt it was one of the “all things” that would help me gain a hearing..uh, job!), and only succumbed the latter once (That wild story in a minute!).

As with many of the oldline denominational adherents, folks in our denominational “family” would move from another state, and upon arriving in our city, simply look up the closest church of that tribe, and go to it, immediately joining it, no questions asked! No need to church shop or hop, you trusted the brand name; the company store. You even brought with you a "letter of transfer." As unwise and naive as that often was, it often sovereignly and serendipitously worked in our favor: people “accidentally” found Christ! People that had never tasted vibrant relationship with the Christ of Christianity, but had grown up in a congregation of our ‘brand name” (sometimes for four generations back) would trust a “transfer” and “lateral move” to our town and church; often experiencing conversion before they knew what/Who hit them! And because they trusted the "company message" , they often trusted Christ. After all, you are “supposed to" trust and obey what the "professionally trained clergy” says. I loved it when people would make an appointment with me (the officially “dressed” representative of God and “home office”) to talk about "getting my kid done" (baptized). When they came in, I didn't chew them out about trusting in a ritual to magically save their kid; I started where they were; and walked them through the (thoroughly evangelical) parental vows in the "official manual" for baptism, and was able to simply point them towards a more biblical view of, and relationship with, Jesus. It was rewarding stuff. Even if the right doors only opened for three wrong reasons: because I went to the right school, belonged to the right outfit…. AND wore the right outfit. Jesus, in Matthew 10:16 had asked us to be “sneaky as snakes and docile as doves.” So I dressed like a snake…uh, woman…uh, “professional “ pastor. But I was a dove inside.

Once I had a 92 year old trust Jesus in my office, when he heard of such a possibility for the first time (though he had attended that church for decades, perhaps since before I..or my parents..were born). I heard later that around twenty years before, he had felt that there might be "something he needed to do" to get right with God. He did what he was "supposed to do," he made an appointment with the pastor at the time, who dutifully told him "Don't worry about it, just join the church, and you will be fine." The pastor assured him that any talk he might have been hearing about "accepting Jesus" was huge hogwash! (the kind of wild-eyed fanaticism advocated by those churches and pastors who didn’t wear dresses).
So what an honor to find that this man was still hungry for the “something more” It was beautiful. Oh, did I mention this was a premarital counseling appointment?! It was unspeakably cool and confirming to officiate the wedding of a new convert nonageneraian and his lovely and Jesus-loving (eighty-something ) bride…even if I did have to don the dreaded dress (the bride’s was far prettier!) for the ceremony.
But it was worth it all to hear stories about the last few tears of this man’s married life, as age and Alzheimers crept in. It seems he would actually say things like "This is my wife..uh, what's your name, honey?....But let me tell you about Jesus!!".
Husband and wife are both with Jesus now, and could it be that they might not be if I hadn’t… dressed right?


I don’t know, but it’s time to get back to the prequel:

"So glad you felt at home.,” I assured the first-time visitor, whose turn in line was about to take a twist, and last a bit longer than the typical transaction….all because I added, “Sure, ask your question..(famous last word)..anything!"

"Okay.” He hesitated momentarily but spit it out. "Pastor….Why do you wear a dress?"

This is where you came in. Now you recall my thunderstruck thud.

But how could he NOT have asked? Unlike veteran mainliners who knew no other appropriate attire for a “preacher”, this pre-Christian seeker (refreshingly) had zero background with church and Christianese, let alone church culture cues, or dress codes thereof. Thus he honestly had no clue or construct about what to do with a robed preacher. The only possible word he had in his file for what I was wearing was “dress.” (Hey, it least it was my “color,” as the sweet church ladies always told me!).

So it was a legitimate and logical question. Actually, I have no full memory of the particular answer I fumbled and stumbled out. It must have been something like: “Oh, that! (Laughing) Gee, I realize how it could look like a dress; but hey, don’t worry! In our tradition, pastors often wear robes to….” How in the world did I finish that sentence?! I had no acceptable answer, and still don’t, at least acceptable to me. But thank God the good man seemed fairly satisfied with all that I said; at left least mostly convinced that I wasn’t a cross-dresser (Though I doubt he’d let me babysit his kids!).

But the sequel is telling: Even though he admitted loving the worship service that day (he seemed to really mean it, and I already had all kinds of hope for him encountering Christ among us), you guessed it:

He never came back.

Which is partly why my robe is on sale on EBay.

Soon after, I finally quit wearing a robe at that church, I just couldn't do it for a number of reasons. Primary among them was not “What do non-Christians think about guys wearing dresses?”, but gnotty theological problems I had wrestled with from day one of my days in the pastorate, and in the outfit. Note well that I had (and have) no problem with pastors who feel and dress differently than I now do, in fact they had better dress as they believe they are called. But for me, it would be a compromise, even a sin, to wear the old robe (even the one that was my color) on Sundays, and I would actually challenge all pastors and priests to consider prayerfully and carefully the message that the medium (robes) inescapably send. Again, “Some of my best friends wear robes,” and it is invigorating to see new life flood postmodern-sensitive churches are they blend old and new with meaningful liturgy..sometimes involving robes. One need not throw the wine out with wineskin; nor the robe with the vow to eschew “meaningless ritual.” Like Paul in Philippians 1:18, I must rejoice whenever and wherever Christ is preached..clothes of the preacher must ultimately be (pun intended) immaterial.

But I must live with myself…and I can’t myself live with a robe which was intentionally intended to communicate (against my will) that I am of a higher class/caste: a “clergy” who alone can authentically and apostolically teach the lowly “laypeople, ” as I am intrinsically and inherently (by virtue of my schooling and whose hands and “seal of approval” were laid on me) more “anointed.” I’ll never forget the shock of realizing what the colorfully red neckline represented on my pastor’s robe: I had been thinking all along it carried some neat theological connotation: blood of Jesus, Pentecost, whatever. Then I found out it was the “doctor’s bars” of academic robe! I just couldn’t wear something like church. You can have more degrees than a summer day in Fresno, and still not be a servant- leader.
My district superintendent, who helped assign “appointments” of pastors to churches, often (half)teased the pastors under his charge: “Just because you’re anointed doesn’t mean you’ll be appointed.” I won’t claim to belong to a higher class of Christian, just because I am a pastor. In fact the only “higher level” specifically promised Christian leaders (viaJames 3:1) is a “stricter judgement” !! And the word “layperson” comes from the original biblical Koine Greek “laos” which clearly means simply “people.” So for me to claim a title of “clergy” implies that I am of a higher class and genus than “people.” Hey, I am only people, too…pastoral calling and all: which of course was one of the Reformation’s trumpet calls a few hundred years ago. But ironically, the Reformation didn’t go far enough, in fact it perpetuated some of the problems embedded in the system it was trying to shed, and directly infected the infested system that “Protest-ants” have inherited today!!

“Reformer John Calvin determined he would NOT wear priestly robes,” Jim Rutz writes in “The Open Church”. “As a protest to the costumed pageantry of other clergy, he stuck to his business suit for even the most formal church occasions.” Sounds good and God-inspired so far? I think it was, and it’s pretty much what I did for the first few years of nonrobed preaching. Yet the clincher: “But alas, his followers through the ages have also worn a business suit—EXACT COPIES OF CALVIN”S BUSINESS SUIT. And thus today, when you see a Presbyterian minister in full regalia, you are looking at a sixteenth century Swiss Brooks Brothers boardroom special.”

For those wanting more powerful, provocative evidence of the often antithetical, at times pagan origins of many of the “sacred cows” of Protestantism (from pews to pulpits) , or church in general, start with the Rutz book just quoted, or the explosive online expose b y Gene Edwards, which lives up to its title: “Beyond Radical.”(Free online here).


Sacred cows often make better burgers. But I don’t desire to be inordinately iconoclastic, or a rebel without a cause; or fall into the “Polo Shirts are the new robes” trap, or even to make a big deal about what on the surface appears a superficial and neutral clothes. Yet because clothes are literally surface issues, (that is, on the surface of my frame) and thus unavoidably visible, I cannot NOT consider the implications of what I wear. My clothes speak. I cannot not preach by what I wear. I am glad that most Sundays, I just wear what I want to; I am not intentionally and reactionarily sending or not sending a message…except the unspoken message to all us “laypeople”: it just may be alright with the Almighty if we chill out and wear what we want (within reason and season of course! I love the statement on our church website: “Dressing up is accepted, but not expected”..Anyway, here (is a photo revealing how I typically dress when I preach on Sundays (if I preach on Sundays at all, another shift in which cows are sacred) .

And it should suffice as evidence that I don’t necessarily think any pastor is in the wrong to wear a robe that mine is soon for sale on E-Bay..where some of you might actually buy it (take my robe…please!)…and even (gasp!) wear it to preach in! I didn’t burn it; right or wrong, I’m E-Baying it. Though I am fine with whatever use you want to put it to: Halloween costume, satirical skit (someone actually borrowed my robe once to play a judge…hmmm, there’s another wake-up call regarding what message a robe sends!), kindling. Be imaginative! But don’t imagine me wearing it again…

For some reason, though ( I hope its just nostalgia about the story I am about to tell), I haven’t been able to take my clerical collar off the mirror and into the trash..or onto E-Bay. I’ve already teased about telling about the day (one only) I wore it. Let me say upfront that it’s Harry’s fault! I probably wouldn't have done it for anyone else but Harry! I officiated his wedding, too ( in a suit, thank you very much! He didn't ask me to wear a dress, thank God!) On a more serious note, the story is this: Harry's brother lost his wife suddenly, and though the family were nominally Catholic, and actually had no church; there was the background and vestige of Catholicism so woven into the fabric of the family history that nothing would authenticate a funeral officiant more than a collared clergy. Sigh! I told my mouth to tell Harry “No,” but it came out a God-breathed “Yes.” All things to all people, the Lord reminded me…that some might be saved.
I was honored to be asked to do the funeral, though it was a difficult one; she was too young.

Visiting with the family, and realizing that many of the friends that would be in attendance were not only nominally Catholic, but far from the church and Christ.. Reading the wife's journal, we found heartfelt and desperate prayers to Jesus for salvation, healing and guidance, It was enough for me to preach positively and hopefully about her God-relationship. So I felt better about officiating..collar and all.
(I had to go out and buy one..finding of course the least conspicuous and least clergy-looking style available; connected to a light-blue shirt, of course). And yes, my “in the know” friends smiled (okay, “smirked”)at me as I entered the funeral home. But God worked in amazing ways at that
service. Self-confessed drug-addicted, non-church folks, stood up and gave testimony (Often with colorful but heartfelt words) about what the deceased had meant to them. The Catholic relatives hung on my every word of grace and comfort. Don Secrest still laughs about howI even had everyone in the room unison, out loud, a prayer of leaning our lives on Jesus. I mean, that's what they were expecting, a "repeat after me " liturgy." And I couldn’t in good faith offer a “Hail Mary,”, so I created a downhome “Hey, Jesus” prayer. That’s right, I..and hopefully God through me..made one up, an honest one that seekers and sailors; doubters and drunks could say and pray with integrity as they tested and tiptoed their way towards the Christ their departed friend seem to know. Folk who wouldn’t darken the door of a church felt free to express themselves in profanity-laced testimonies to God and even to “accept Jesus”..partly because the officiating shepherd (who actually felt very sheepish in his get-up) wore a clerical collar ( to his conscience a veritable clown suit), and seemed the real deal. Go figure.


Clown suit, huh? But one man’s clown suit is another man’s lifeline. I can’t judge that; I might even preach in a literal clown suit (or worse..a dress! Does E-Bay let you buy back your own stuff!!) if God wills.

My neighbor when I was a teen, once asked his mom to buy him what some called a "gook jacket." It was what the cool ”rowdy” kids wore; a hooded sweatshirt. The funny thing is that my dad had somehow managed to buy and wear one; probably unaware that it was the hippest thing for teens; it was more likely a functional purchase. My dad was not one to embarrassingly dress “young” just to be hip with the kids, he was and is already just naturally cool.

"No! Never! You cannot have one of those jackets," his mother shot back. "That's what the crooks; the bad kids wear!"

But my swift friend did not relent; he took full advantage of the opportunity. He had a secret, and was about to go for the big guns.

"But Mom!," he protested, armed with his decidedly weighty argument: "But Mr. Wainscott wears one!"
His mom had the shutdown comeback, however: "I don’t care if Mr. Wainscott wears a clown suit!! If Mr. Wainscott wears a clown suit, are you going to want one of those, too? The answer is no!

For me, wearing a "preaching robe" is the equivalent of a clown suit…or the dreaded dress my visiting parishioner mis(?)took it for. Again, I am all for pastors wearing such if God leads and needs.
But I'd better be careful; there actually IS a "clown eucharist" service! No comment, but here's an actual photo and a live link)

...And I had better be as open and as stripped of preconceived dress codes as was Salvation Army founder William Booth. The story is told that many criticized Booth for dressing in military gear, and banging a drum, to attract attention to his outdoor preaching. He reportedly replied: “I’d stand on my head and bang a drum, if it meant one soul would come to Jesus!” I would like to be like Booth when I grow up! So I try to never say never…

Partly because I am attracted to being a..

“Holy Fool,” which is a wonderful tradition of the Eastern Church who periodically pops up here in the West. In the Russian tradition, some of the saints would do almost anything to avoid being perceived as saints. One of them kept offering to wrestle bears so people would think him a nut and not praise him as a saint. In the West, St. Philip Neri acted goofy, partly because he enjoyed being a goof and partly to throw people off the scent of his sanctity and keep them from gushing over him. When offered a cardinal's hat, he proceeded to play football with it. Currently, we saw something of the Holy Fool in Forrest Gump a few years ago. All such fools have one thing in common: they know they are not wise. Similarly, those who are convinced of their innate wisdom are invariably great ninnies. It's far better to be a fool for Christ than to be a fool on one's own. Today, thank God for the folly that is his wisdom.

1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
-Mark Shea, Daily Cathloc Exchange Devotional, Aopril 1, 2005

Yet tough questions remain. If even the Salvation Army needs to address and redress (literally) the way it operates, so be it. All for the same motive of “whatever it takes!.” It could be that wearing an Army uniform,or a clerical collar, or a 1500s Swiss business suit only gets in the way of an effective explanation and demonstration of the gospel in this postmodern, postevangelical, post-Post-It note, postpost (yada) age. And it also may be that the Lord will prompt even me to wear one or more (hopefully not all at once!)of the above if a soul is at stake. I’d like to even believe I’d dress in that “dress again”, for Christ’s sake…even for Harry’s sake. But until then, color me in jeans (maybe Dockers), a polo shirt and sneakers.. And color me quite cautious about anything more formal or freaky, I’m fine in my polo shirt..
until and unless that becomes a new “robe”. Agonizingly, anything can become idolatrous and adulterous. Even though Paul warns well not to get up in arguments over neutral things, and None less than Jesus commands “Don’t worry about what you wear!” (Love to see that verse…Matthew 6:25.. on the front door of churches! Hope I’m not too sarcastic and faithless when I say “That’ll be the day!”). But do you know the apparent reason that “dressing up” for church (not just by the clergy) was encouraged? Gene Edwards and James Rutz fill in some blanks again:
Why did Christians start dressing up to go to church? If you've ever yanked a tie tightly around your sweaty neck on a hot, steaming day-or ouched your way to church in a pair of not-quite-fitting high heels, you may have said to yourself, "I'd sure like to meet the dirty dog who invented these things ... in a dark alley."
Actually, you're probably under the impression that dressing up for church is a godly custom designed to show our respect for the Lord. It's not. While showing respect for God is always good, that's just not the historical reason for shined shoes, fresh shirts, and attention to style. Nor do we dress to impress each other-although many people do find it uplifting to be among well-turned-out friends.
History is a little fuzzy on this, but as near as anyone can tell, the real reason for our Sunday splendor is so that we'll look good if we happen to run into Emperor Constantine or his aristocratic friends!
Chances for that are not high these days, but originally that was the reason. Constantine and other heavy hitters had a habit of popping up in several of the church buildings he paid for. And when big cathedrals sprang up much later, with European royalty in attendance, the impetus to dress up grew further. Fancy church buildings were the one place that royalty mixed with commoners. Cathedrals, such as those at St. Denis, attracted royalty from all over, and it simply wouldn't do to bump into a prince or contessa in your grubby work clothes.
These are just historical observations, of course. I wouldn't be so foolish as to question the advisability of an ages-old custom like dressing up for church. If snappy clothing brings you closer to God, helps you deal humbly with sin in your life, lets you relax and get your eyes on Christ while feeling closer to your brothers and sisters in church, why, I'm all for it. In fact, maybe I'll join you ... just as soon as I can locate my Christian Dior cravat and Yves Saint Laurent silk suit. link

And how about that collar sequestered on my mirror?

The clerical "backwards collar" deserves to be awarded a small note here. At one brief point in European history, every man who could afford a suit had a shirt or two with a reverse collar. It was simply the style du jour.
Eventually, however, it went the way of all styles, and no one wore it any more-except, that is, for the clergy. Being perpetually underpaid, ministers and missionaries have never been noted for up-to-the-minute fashions. And in this particular case, they continued to wear the now-venerable reverse collar simply because they didn't have the money to refurbish their wardrobes with newer shirts.

I am picky about the pictures of me that appear on our website. For example, many nice photos have been taken of me in a tie, but you won’t see any on our site; it would send the wrong message about me, and the typical tone of our people’s dress. As far as I know, no photos are floating around online of me in my“old days” preacher robe (No, Dad, don’t post one). The closest thing I have to an actual photo from that era is this abstract Picasso-esque gem that Shawn Rabon painted of me while I was preaching robe and all. (I thought he was taking copious sermon notes, turns out he was instead inspired to doodle this masterpiece!).


Because at one church I served, we had four worship services (with accompanying degrees of formality/informality) there even was a timee where on Sunday mornings I had more costume changes than Cher. (Though I never had a “wardrobe malfunction" like Janet Jackson, I may have came close as I scurried out of the dressing room). I’d like to say I’d do it again in a hartbeat if it felt like a God-thing. Because I know it’s not about clothes. But if Wolfgang Simson is half-right (and I believe the case that he is even understated here is strong)….:

In rediscovering the gospel of salvation by faith and grace alone, Luther started to reform the Church through a reformation of theology. In the 18th century through movements like the Moravians there was a recovery of a new intimacy with God, which led to a reformation of spirituality, the Second Reformation. Now God is touching the wineskins themselves, initiating a Third Reformation, a reformation of structure. link

…then we should not be surprised if God Himself is orchestrating “structural changes” (including large scale “costume changes” that informalize a lot of clergy) that facilite us being more sensitive to, and Spiritanously open to, the fact that, as Simson says “life..and thus informal.” .

There is an anecdote, perhaps anecdotal (that I can’t find right now) about a former U.S president…probably Hoover or Truman (or someone else with a sly and dry sense of humor) who wanted to prove to a friend visiting the White House that visitors at “meet and greet” photo-op receptions were typically so taken with the glitz and hype of the White House that the ten-second of each to “meet and greet” the president was so unreal and rote that he as president could say anything to the person in line he was shaking hands with, and it wouldn’t register. This was a time when the president’s mother was known to be ill, so many greeters as they shook the president’s hand asked “How’s your mother, Mr. President?”, out of nervousness or just to have something polite to say. So the president whispered to his friend, “Watch this, to the third person who asks me how my mother is, I’ll say “She died this morning,” and they’ll say something like “That’s wonderful, Mr. President,” as they smile for the picture and move on. It worked!

I occasionally felt during those years of “meet and great” at the White House..uh,whorehouse...uh, I mean local church…I mean greeting the line of parishioners at the door… as wonderful as it was, was also at times nothing less than an encouragement for them and me to lie. “How are you?” The answer was usually (supposed to be) “ Fine” whether or not the person had diarrhea, demons, disease or death coming against them.

I still love to greet folks on Sundays…but we are working hard about building informality, honesty and real relationship into our family DNA..including such conversations…We linger, mingle, often as a whole group for extended individual prayer, sharing, or lunch. And though sometimes we still war those masks, at least I am not wearing the robe that would keep me looking too super-human to confess that I..even the “pastor” may feel like crap today.

I know radical transparency calls for wisdom and balance.
See “Real Live Preacher’s” helpful article here, which I call “How much of your pastor do you want to see?”; also Tim Keel’s “Naked in the Pulpit: Preaching as an Act of Imtimacy” .(safe click, don’t worry, no pictures(:

God DID ask Isaiah to preach naked for a few years, though...I am afraid to pray if THAT is God's will for me. (: And I can't not pray the classic 77s song that got them censored.

Someone once said about my father-in law, a Christian leader that “he is so transparent that his underwear shows.” That was a compliment, but I will NOT be preaching/mingling in my underwear…or a formal dress. For me, the polo shirt is symbolic of the balance.


In conclusion, if the (then) young man who first asked me the paradigm-busting, million dollar question that day that changed my life and rocked my world into where it is now, is out there reading:

1)Sorry, you never came back to church. If the dress was the isuue, come on back. I’m safe (though a bit more slovenly) now.

2)”Thanks” is not adequate. This whole new ride I am on, and the delightfully risky, emerging wineskin
I am drinking from is wonderful beyond my wildest dreams. God is personal and profound to me like never before. It’s partly your fault! Bless you!

And a working conclusion about this “wearing a robe” thing:

1 .I can’t imagine doing it. (They are itchy, make it hard to take a bathroom break, and make me feel like an unholy pompous fool. I want to be “just Dave.” ).

2. Besides this more persona, stylistic, emotive reason, I have too many theological reticences about what a robe communicates.

3. I am cool with other pastors doing it, but I don’t think I could ever recommend it.

4. It’s not just about looking to some like I’m wearing a dress. I am hopefully secure enough in my masculinity to don one again, if God (and maybe Harry) so speaks…

a)But it better be writing in the sky.

b)If so, I just hope He speaks about me wearing one that IS my color.(:
Where is that E-Bay page, anyway?

1 comment:

  1. Dave. REALLY needed to know what you're wearing. OK, sorry, I meant to say I appreciate the message. I also lost the collar a while back; "look - no more ring around the collar." But don't worry, the tabs make spill proof bookmarks.


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!