In the previous post, I promised I’d be back with a shiny new collar – so here it is! And as Bobs has featured so often in this blog I felt he also deserved a new collar which he is also very pleased with but, as you can see he doesn’t want to risk over-exposure he is refusing to let you see his face!
‘Over exposed’ sums up how I have felt this week, wearing my collar for the first time. I was advised to ‘just put it on’ and keep putting it on without questioning it until you and everyone else around you is thoroughly used to the idea and only then start picking and choosing when to wear it. This process is all about me having the courage to embrace who God is calling me to be , it is not about inflicting that status on others (with the exception of 20 year old son currently living at home. Taken aback by the sight of me every morning in my dog collar, he has so far steadfastly refused to address me as ‘Reverend Mother’!).
At two moments this week it has opened interesting doors. On Monday I walked through our town centre for the first time and stopping to talk to someone I knew, the person next to her who was a complete stranger to me suddenly asked me to pray for her – not just a ‘say one for me’ type request but a ‘please put your hand on my shoulder and pray for me right here and now in the High Street’! So I did, wonderful and terrifying at the same time.
Then on Thursday we had Messy Church. Last month I’d held up my new clerical shirt on a hanger and pre-warned them that I’d be differently dressed this tiem. This was news to most of them as almost all of them have no other church connection and no notion or who I was or what I did. So we planned this month to have a big BBQ bash and appealed to all the kids to come in fancy dress, preferably in a working uniform so I wouldn’t be the only one dressed differently. The response was fantastic: about 50 kids turned up as nurses, policemen, firemen, super-heroes, skeletons and mad scientists… It was great fun. I told the story about the man who got into the King’s wedding banquet wearing the wrong clothes and had to be asked to leave and left them with the thought that being a Christian is all about accepting God’s robe of forgiveness and not just trying to look good by ourselves. We had about 50 adults there and they were all really affirming and encouraging about the dog-collar bit, bless them.
So, so far so good, I’ve been warned that reactions are not always so positive I hope I’ll be ready for that if and when they come.
For those of you not familiar with Anglican ceremonial: the stole is red because we were in the season of Pentecost for which the colour is red and it’s worn ‘Star Trek’ style because I’m a deacon not yet a priest. Trying to remember ‘right shoulder -left hip’ was a bit stressful until I hit on the children’s action song ‘I’m a little teapot’. This memory aid was, thankfully, only in my head while my friend Liz vested me with my stole! (Yes, Joy, it’s a stole not a sash! Her comment on this photo was ‘Miss World meets Songs of Praise!)
Here I am later talking to another clergy person. Captions so far include ‘… when the baby comes up out of the water?’ and ‘when the communion loaf is this big? Other suggestions welcome.