Wearing the Church

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked cindys-stoleout for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  Colossians 3:12-14

On any given day, I am wearing at least one of the following:

  • A tartan scarf given by The Church of Scotland
  • A beaded bracelet given by Presbyterians from Pakistan
  • A beaded PCUSA cross given by the Native American pastors of the PCUSA
  • One of several stoles given by the Committee on Local Arrangements for the 222nd General Assembly by the Presbytery of Cascades or by the Office of the General Assembly or by The Presbyterian Church of Korea

My partner in Co-Moderating wears an ancient cross around her neck which is actually three crosses riveted together.  It’s the Moderator’s Cross and Denise is wearing it the first year of our two year term.

We wear the Church wherever we go.

Wearing the Church is not the same as being “clothed in love.”  Our confusion about this has lead to the diminishing of our ministry in the Mainline Church. We have confused “being good Church People” with being faithful disciples of Jesus. I remember the funeral of a church member years ago during which his former pastor named him as One of the Great Church Statesmen.

With all due respect, I hope nobody ever calls me “a Great Church Stateswoman.”  Our faith in Christ is marked more by how well we have worn love.  Do we walk through the day wrapped in a cloak of compassion or dressed in the right outfit according to human expectations?

I’m a fan of dressing appropriately, but if we do not wear our faith out in the world, people will notice.  God certainly will notice.  A clergy collar worn at a rally is damaging if that collar is not accessorized by compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, and self-discipline.  A cross around the neck is confusing when worn by a cruel person.

As I celebrate the 150th anniversary of the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe this weekend. bedecked in all my Church-wear, I pray people will know I am Christian (and you are Christian) by our love.  This is especially the case as we remember the ministry of Dr. King this weekend.

Image of the stole which once belonged to the Moderator of the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA.


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