Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Man in Black

When I first learned that both Deacons and Presbyters wear clerical uniforms in the course of executing their office, I knew right then that would never be me. That last thing I need is someone looking to me as a visible representation of anything organized about the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. My initial inquiry into the meaning of the uniform received a satisfactory response. The Deacon I asked first point to his black clothes, "I'm a sinner," then pointed to his collar, "but I am called to speak what is pure, true and right." An over-simplification? Possibly. But I found the explanation adequate at the time. Nevertheless, I remained equally committed not to ever be wearing such an indicting set of threads.

Let's be honest. The black suit would be more true than the white collar. On the one hand, my confession is to having been not much of a "spiritual man" in life. I've known many that more easily fit this picture. They seem to find time for daily devotions with great ease. Each word appears filtered through a pastoral care paradigm before being spoken. On the other hand, any particular sense of God's "presence" that I've lived with in life has mainly made me aware of my own depravity. Thus some may spy the clerical uniform and think they are sighting a "saint," when in reality it's more "sinner" that they see.

Nevertheless, to the degree that those who decide such things might find it acceptable to place in uniform such an example as me of simul iustus et peccator ("at the same time saint and sinner"), I will wear such clothes being faithful to that office. I'm used to uniforms. The Navy, the kung fu studio, the fire department all had uniforms, and corresponding ranks and symbolism that needed to be faithfully expressed in both sharp grooming and mindful living. This is different though, in that those uniforms did not carry that weight one representing The Church must bear. Hopefully all of this will remain fresh in the mind, and scare me often enough to be a faithful "man in black."

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