I was speaking with a woman the other evening.  She was telling me about her Christmas service experience.  The pastor wore no vestments.  She was confused.  She asked him as she was exiting the sanctuary.  She asked, “Why don’t you wear an alb?”  She reported that the pastor said, “To me an alb separates the pastor from the people, I don’t like that.”  She responded, “you are the messenger of God, you are separated from the people because you are the pastor.”  I think the pastor was a bit shocked, or the woman a bit flustered, because that is where her story ended.

I thought about that a bit and talked about it with one of my professors.  We agree that self imposed values upon the pastoral office are a big problem.  It seems like some pastors, or congregations, have a set of values they feel, or agree upon intellectually, are how they should operate and be active.  I think this is crippling because these values usually are rather baseless.  We have pastors saying, “I feel missions are important,” or “I believe being confessional is the utmost importance.”  Both statements being true which will you choose?  This becomes the source of our church problem.  You either align your ministry and parish with one set of values or another.  Problematic is perhaps too weak of a word.

I have no answer as to how we might address the issue as a church.  But, I think talking about it as a church would be a start to an answer.  Having a synod convention that addresses and tries to hammer out something theological like this might be worth while.  And, since I am going to get to go to the next convention (hopefully) I like the sound of that kind of discussion.

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