One of the newer sights for Trinity Church folks is seeing your pastors walking around town wearing clerical collars. Iíve been wearing one and Pastor Leithart will also be wearing one regularly. And we want to make sure that you understand what that means and what it doesnít mean. One of the first associations with clerical collars for many is Roman Catholicism, but actually for most of the churchís history, Christian ministers have been publicly set apart by their clothing. Up until about a hundred years ago Presbyterian and Reformed ministers even wore distinctive clothing. You can see Reformers in many church history books wearing distinctive shirts and collars that designated their callings as ministers of the gospel. We are seeking to align ourselves with that tradition. But the purpose of a minister wearing a collar is tied to his vocation. We are public servants both for you and for the broader Moscow community. The reason mailmen, police officers, doctors, and other vocations have uniforms is so that they can serve. When we see the uniforms we know what they are called to do, and similarly, we want as ministers to be available, recognizable, and at your service and at the service of our community. Traditionally, the collar has represented the yoke of Christ, the fact that ministers are slaves of the gospel, and called to lead their congregations and communities in submission to the Lord Jesus and as Christís servants called to serve his people. Finally, one of the central callings of ministers is to speak, proclaiming the gospel, comforting the grieving, calling the wicked to repentance, and declaring forgiveness to the penitent. These collars at our throats remind both us and you of that responsibility. And thatís a terrifying responsibility, but it is actually the calling of all Christians. In baptism we have all been called to take up the yoke of Christ, to be his servant for the world, and to speak gospel light into the darkness of sin and death. Consider these uniforms as simple reminders to us all of this high calling, the calling to die to ourselves, giving ourselves away for our families, neighbors, friends, and even our enemies.
Gregory Soderberg says
I can’t resist linking to my own blog: http://liturgicalinstitute.wordpress.com/vestments/
The “Roman” collar is actually (it seems) a Protestant collar. Read more at the site linked to at the RLI (i.e. Ken Collins’s site).