Teaching in the temple, Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
This is not the best Sunday to be a preacher; especially in a liturgical church. As we do every Sunday, we’ll put on our finery, we’ll wear symbols that mark us as ontologically different, we’ll say long prayers, and take the seat of honor in the sanctuary and then we’ll stand up and read the opening sentences of Sunday’s lesson from Mark’s Gospel. I’ve written elsewhere (using the same photograph, in fact) about the use of vestments in the Church, so I won’t rehash that here.
What I will offer today is a thought on the issue. First, to those clergy persons who read this blog: As a member of the clergy, do you know why you wear what you wear on Sunday morning? If you do, and it is something more than blind superstition or “the way things have always been,” then thanks be to God. If you don’t, well then how do you plan to read this to your congregation on Sunday? A follow-up question would be, “have you taught you congregations why we – bishops, priests, deacons, lay ministers, choir members, etc. – wear what we wear on Sunday morning? If not, do you plan on just reading and ignoring this portion of Sunday’s text? Now, to the laity who read this blog: Do you have a clue what the signs, symbols, and vestments that adorn your worship space mean? If not, why don’t you ask? It’d be a good exercise for the whole parish.
Now… where is my guide to church vestments… somebody’s gonna ask.