Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Last (?) Photo You'll Ever See of Me in a Clerical Collar

Some of you just choked.

Some thought you landed onto the wrong website.

Yes, that IS a photo of me,,,
in a clerical collar.

Here's the story (excerpted from this post), from a few years ago:

...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 unsion, 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 downhowme “Hey, Jesus” prayer. That’s right, I..and hopefully God through me..made one up, an honest one that seekers andsailors; 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"s serice! 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..

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