robes again

NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I’m not really admitting I’m trying, but here is Day 2, prompt courtesy of RevGals Facebook Page.

Prompt: write about what you wear at church (your best clothes, your comfy clothes, robe, stole, etc.). What does the phrase “church clothes” look like in your world?

We live in a decidedly un-affluent part of Southern California, and as far as the congregation is concerned, anything goes. On our last Children-in-Charge day (in September, still summer), the note I sent to parents said to have the kids wear “nice church clothes.” All but two of the boys showed up in shorts, their nice church shorts. It made me laugh.

Yesterday we had two people alternating reading the much-too-long list of names of Saints who died since last All Saints Day, the woman who does the bulk of our parish visiting and her young adult son. She wore a skirt and he wore jeans and a button up shirt. And nobody blinked, but I wonder sometimes what the older generation thinks when they see the boys in shorts or the young adult in jeans (or the middle-aged man who wears shorts and sometimes serves communion in them) on the chancel.

Reformist Wall, Geneva

Reformist Wall, Geneva

As for me, I don’t robe because I am not a Rev., but I lead worship fairly often and I get tired of figuring out what to wear, especially when I am visible several weeks in a row. In the Presbyterian church robing is funny. Originally the robe was the mark of the pastor being a “regular” though educated person, the Geneva Gown was the sign of the academic. They wore robes to show that they were not priests, somehow above everyone else. but that they were educated, prepared to interpret the word. Now, when no one else wears academic regalia in regular life–just at graduation ceremonies–the robe sets the pastor apart, not in a bad way, but there it is (and one can argue, rightly I think, that in our theology the pastor is set apart to service: not above, just apart). So, some Presbyterians get funky about non-ordained folks wearing gowns (except the choir who have different robes and are also leading in worship), but, according to our esteemed pastor emeritus who loves rules and our current pastor who does not love rules, if I want to wear my Ph.D. gown, I’ve earned it, I have the right, I just should wear it. I might, but it needs to be at the right time, I think. What I really want is an alb which is the robe for a lay person in churches that do have hierarchies, though that kind of defeats the point of Presbyterians not having a hierarchy of office, though, again, the fact that only the clergy robe also kind of brings that into question.

Meanwhile, my Girl Child was crucifer (carried the cross to the front of the sanctuary at the front of the choir procession) for the first time this last week, so she got to wear a robe. She LOVED it! (I get to wear a robe? Really?) I was pretty utterly proud of her her and gleeful at her joy. I am sorry I didn’t get to take her picture.

I have written about the gown thing before.

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3 Responses to robes again

  1. Deanna says:

    Robe rules…interesting material!

  2. (I also put this on your other robe post, but thought maybe you’d never see it.)

    At Rim, where all teachers must participate in graduation, a group of us used to go out to dinner after graduation still wearing our academic regalia, and it was really fun. If we wore robes to teach in, it would certainly simplify getting dressed in the morning. I also think it would lend authority to teachers in the eyes of students, wouldn’t it?

    Traditional magician clothes, top hat, evening clothes, were also meant to make the magician look like an ordinary person, back when ordinary people dressed for dinner at the club. It was meant to introduce realism to the performance, and was a stepping away from hackneyed wizard robes and turbans. But, of course, now, to look like a regular person, the magician has to wear jeans and a T-shirt.

    • bookgirl says:

      That’s fun. I wish we had thought of it back at LSHS. (Still annoyed at how little they cared about the sanctity of regalia. Bryan being annoyed that Ann, a Dr., was annoyed because he was wearing a doctoral robe. Seriously!)

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