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I may look different this Sunday

By Pastor David Rapp in Redeemer Presbyterian Church 8 months ago | 550 views Link: https://goo.gl/y7RhYp

I may look different this Sunday.

 

No, I didn’t forget to take off my Halloween costume. It’s not a cape. It’s a ministerial robe. And it’s coming back on All Saints’ Day this Sunday.

Bringing back the minister’s robe.

 

Those who have been at Redeemer for a long time will remember that from the beginning, and for the first many years, the minister wore a robe during our worship services.

 

Why did you STOP wearing it?

 

A few years ago, out of concern that it might be perceived as strange or intimidating to visitors, and out of a desire to create the most welcoming environment possible, the decision was made to experiment with foregoing the robe. It’s not a hill to die on, which is why I was willing over two years ago to try going without it. It seemed like it could have become more of a hindrance than a benefit and, without denying my preference for it or my convictions about it, I was willing to lay it aside.

 

Some of you were thrilled to see it go away. While others of you experienced it as a loss.

 

The reality of being in relationship with one another as a worshiping community is that we all have differing preferences in a number of areas. And as a church family built around the gospel, we are often called to embrace and engage in things which are not our favorite for the good of others. (Who of us LOVES EVERY song we sing each Sunday? Probably no one. When we sing something that’s not your favorite, you should think, “This is probably connecting with and encouraging sisters and brothers in my church family who are different from me.”

 

In leading our church, my goal is not to try to accommodate the most preferences, but rather to lead with conviction in directions we believe God is calling us to go.

 

The robe is not the most important thing by a long stretch. Really.

 

So why are you bringing it back NOW?

 

It’s not because of any change in conviction or theology. It’s an attempt to most helpfully apply our theology of worship in the life of our church. I actually really miss something that is helpful to me in carrying out my vocation as a minister of the gospel. I believe the robe helps me and all of us to be aware of the office I am fulfilling.

 

Transitions or change of any kind will be experienced as loss by some. We understand and want to be sensitive to that. Our commitment to creating a warm and welcoming environment has not changed a bit. To those who will perceive the robe as new, strange, or foreign, we want to explain and communicate. And in communicating the “WHY” of the robe, I want it to be clear that these are the same reasons why we originally wore robes and they are not so important that we were precluded from exploring a different direction.

 

So what is the robe supposed to communicate?

 

NOT that the minister is more holy or spiritual than everyone else.

And the robes our ministers wear are not vestments as in the Roman Catholic Church.

 

The purpose of the minister’s robe is to accentuate the office and its authority and to de-emphasize and “cover” the minister and his personality. When the minister leads the congregation in Lord’s Day worship, the focus is to be on God speaking to us as the minister pronounces God’s absolution from the guilt of sin, preaches the Word, and administers the sacraments. The focus is not to be on the man himself (whom you may like or may be frustrated with that morning).

 

The robe serves as a uniform. It’s the same every week. There is a connection between clothing and calling.

 

We all understand that nurses wear uniforms, and policemen, firemen, soldiers, doctors, judges, and grocery store clerks all wear uniforms. A doctor or judge does not wear her uniform when you are hanging out with her at a picnic or when she is at the gym. But you wouldn’t expect a doctor NOT to be wearing a uniform in the hospital.

 

The robes ministers wear at Redeemer are the traditional black robes which were the standard dress of Reformed ministers since the time of John Calvin.

The robe has a timelessness with its long and widespread history that transcends changing fashion trends. It also has the benefit of eliminating distinctions of social class and socioeconomic status. 

 

As Robert S. Rayburn notes: “The issue is whether God or man is most prominent in the mind of God’s people when the minister speaks and acts in worship. . . .

Remember, a minister’s clothes say something no matter what. They may say, as they do in some American churches, “If you believe in Christ, you too can wear $800 suits and $90 ties.” Or, they may say, “I’m just one of you, sharing my thoughts about the Bible.” Or, as throughout Christian history, they may say, “The Lord is here to speak to you and to serve you at his table.””

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Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Redeemer Presbyterian Church is a missional community moved by the grace of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to worship and know God and to love and serve our neighbors in Temple and beyond.

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Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Redeemer Presbyterian Church is a missional community moved by the grace of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to worship and know God and to love and serve our neighbors in Temple and beyond.

This is the initial group you are added to when you join Redeemer on The City.

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