This isn't actually about avoiding work. It's just a result of my avoiding work. I was thinking further on the clerical collar thing. Actually, I was walking. I now drive a diesel truck and unless I am driving any distance it is a pain to warm up so I have started walking if I am going anywhere in town. It means scheduling things a little differently but I have found it also gives me time for thinking that I didn't have before.
Anyway, I was thinking about the clerical collar thing. And the thought struck me that we speak about the Incarnation. God became one of us and dwelt among us in all ways. God did not set God's self apart from even the lowest of the low in any distinguishing way. I can't even begin to count the times people have said to me - When you told me you were a priest, I sort of went oh-oh but then I looked at you and figured you would be okay. And often this opens a door to all sorts of interesting discussions about faith and the church.
To balance it out - I have also heard stories where wearing the collar has helped people open up as well. I certainly don't expect people to not wear the collar just because of my experiences. And each of us must do what we feel comfortable within ourselves doing. I will admit that part of the reason I don't wear a collar is that I grew up with a priest who did not always wear one and it is what I knew. But I also think that there is something to be said for truly being among the people as one of them as opposed to being visibly set apart. I think it depends on the person as well. There are many who would not be suited to my style of ministry. It also depends on the context of the ministry and who we are trying to reach and what their needs are. I will admit to some interesting conversations when I have been wearing my collar as well.
I just think that we have to think seriously about making something a hard and fast rule. If we stick to one way of doing things, we are only going to meet the needs of a limited number of people. If we allow for diversity, we will reach many more.
I can appreciate the calls for moving back to older rituals. I understand that there is a growing population that appreciates that. But, lets not go to extremes. Let us not become rigid in how we do things - expecting people to conform to one way of doing things. Rather, lets allow for different possibilities, different ways of being able to learn about and to express our faith.
Another concern would be why we do these things. Do they become idols in themselves? Do we do them because they set us apart? Or do we do them because they bring life? If they bring life to all - that is one thing. But if something else is needed we need to open to that as well. The rituals are not what is important - they are God's gift to us to help bring life. But, if participating in those rituals is not life giving - if the rituals themselves become the focus rather than God, then we need to rethink these things. The rituals themselves are not the goal but are a way of reaching the goal. If they actually block that we need to rethink our use of them. It doesn't mean abandoning them because for some they are a powerful way of connecting with God. But it does mean being open to the different needs of others.
Love and Prayers,