Saturday, October 24, 2015

The 'collar' and 'cross' thing

Since I brought it up in my post about Aunt Elise, I might as well deal with it tonight.

I'm lost in linear time, so I can't tell you accurately when I stopped wearing clerical collars and crosses. But it's been a decade or more.

I wore a cross for decades, under my clothes. I didn't want it to be a public thing--it was between me and God. And for a good while, I wore a cross on Sundays with my 'priest' outfit.

I stopped wearing a collar first. Still a cross under my shirt, out of sight. I never liked collars because I have a short neck and the wrap-around Anglican collars were uncomfortable. Much of the time I would wear a black shirt without a collar. People pointed that out to me. "You don't have on a collar," they would say. And I would point out I had on a black shirt.

It was most likely around 2000 that I stopped wearing even a black shirt.

One thing about a clerical collar--in public places, it causes unnatural silence. Walk into a bar with a clerical collar on and all life pauses, ceases and falls into silence.

It's a conversation stopper in most places outside of church.

I stopped because I didn't like a collar and I was tired of wearing black shirts.

Nothing more, nothing less.

And several years after I stopped wearing a collar, I met a parishioner in a grocery store and she said, "I've never seen you without a collar." Then I knew that people who needed to see one would see one whether I had one on or not. Amen.

The cross thing is more theological. At some point, after I stopped wearing a collar, I asked myself why I still had a cross under my clothes.

And I had no answer. I didn't need a 'secrete cross' to be connected to God and I didn't want a 'public cross' to proclaim the un-proclaimable.

So the cross came off and I stopped wearing one over my robe on Sundays.

I simply didn't need it. I've always been against 'uniforms'. So, I took mine off.

I'm a Priest without a collar. I'm a Christian without a cross.

Extraneous is the word I'd use. I'm just shedding the extraneous stuff of my faith. And I've shed a lot of the nonsense the church 'made up' in the form of doctrine and dogma as well. I've got this 'following Jesus" down to a handful of beliefs. It hurts my heart to say the Nicene Creed these days because so much of the is a collar and a cross. Two of the three churches have picked up on this and we say a canticle or psalm instead of the Creed most of the time.

The older I get, the less I need to 'believe'.

I believe God loves me.

I believe I am created in the image and likeness of God.

I believe we must welcome the stranger.

I believe we must love one another as God loves us.

I believe we must serve those in need.

Beyond that, I have nothing else I need to believe. Just as I don't need a collar or a cross to be a  priest of God.

Just that. Nothing else. I have no argument with those who wear collars or crosses. God bless them.

I just stand where I stand. Nothing more.

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.