Monday, 9 September 2013
But no self-respecting Aussie male would be seen wearing a dress!
So today a summons comes to attend the commissioning of a colleague and to wear "choir dress". I am quite clear what this means. It means cassock, surplice, scarf and academic hood. It is at least a Victorian description. Very few Anglican clergy have cause to wear an academic hood these days. Indeed most suggest that they have no reason to wear a cassock or a surplice.
It would be fairly usual across the globe (bear in mind I have just recently been a priest of the Episcopal Church, albeit for only 6 weeks ) for priests of the Anglican Communion to officiate in a cassock alb, with a stole and perhaps a chasuble.
For 99% of my ministry I have worn a stole and chasuble when celebrating the Holy Eucharist.
The idea of wearing the vestments is to suggest that what is present is the priest (who is Christ) and not the person (who is Stephen) ....they point us to the fact that there is more going on here than human brains conceive. It is not about the particular priest, but about Jesus in our midst.
Now K, admittedly is being commissioned to work in a parish that has as a key tenet the use of ancient liturgy ...the book of 1662... but I do not think that means we should pretend that nothing has happened in 400 years or more. Dress is perhaps more significant than we think. Were I to turn up in alb and stole I don't imagine I would be turned away....but we should not be seen to be receding.
It is my position that (for most of us) we can't go back. We live in century 21. There is, I suggest, a place for some parishes to maintain ancient traditions. It is not for me and mine...though I have a bit of a discussion on my hands when I get back from Long Service Leave!