I had a conversation with a lady that was a bit upset that her Pastor visited her in the hospital in Bermuda shorts, checkered, and the black clergy shirt. I told her that the shirt covers a multitude of sins and that there were plans for a liturgically proper set of shorts that would soon be available. After all if a clergy shirt can be all the colors of the rainbow why can’t there be ecclesiastical shorts?
I have issues with the clergy shirt. I remember the ubsurdity of one of my prof’s at Seminary who always wore one and could be seen on autumn afternoons cleaning the gutters of his dwelling while so attired. The white salt stains on the black background were particularly appealing since they showed the obvious difficulty of the labor in which he had entered.
I remember Robert Preus telling someone that they needed to clean up a bit and needed to wear a shirt and a tie. When the party asked why not the “shirt?”, Dr. Preus said, “not unless you plan to conduct services today”.
I remember being in Taieta Taveta in Kenya in 110 degree heat and Dr. Al Collver sent video back home. The remarks we got were – “why aren’t the clergy in clergy shirts”.
I also remember that our relief workers in Haiti believed that the clergy shirt was essential to gain trust and make entree into being a spiritual advisor or helper. Methodists in their t-shirts were ignored even as they tried to offer prayer and spiritual succor.
I guess somewhere between the Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt that says “honk if you love Jesus” is where I stand.
I have been talking about this marvelous book called “Little Journeys With Martin Luther” and the wonderful quotes in it. There is a scene where the author and the revivified Luther are seeking colloquy in one of the Synods that belonged to the General Council. As they approach the church where the meeting is to be held they see a crowd of clergymen and the observation is made………………
“All these dominies, save one, wore either clerical vests or dickies. That one lone exception must have felt as if he did not have all his clothes on. But I like not this gear inasmuch as the weightiest reason for wearing it smells of soiled linen. Worn to save launderer’s bills, clerical vests are passable; to advertise the preacher, questionable; for style abominable”.