O.k., here's the deal - I'm not obstinate, neither am I a rebel.
Well, I guess sometimes I'm obstinate, and sometimes I can rebel, but it's not anything I seek to do for my own sake.
Tonight, at the ordination service for our Annual Conference, I sorta stuck out like a sore thumb. True enough, some were sore, and others were more of the "that's Johnny for ya," mentality.
One of the highest moments for any gathering of Methodists at annual conference is the ordination service. The clergy all process in together. It is a powerful thing to observe, and it is always an honor to participate in the procession.
Now what you don't know is that a couple of weeks before Annual Conference, we clergy get this note from the folks who put this service together, reminding us of the procession and that we are to wear a black robe for this event. And, if we don't have a black robe, we may wear a nice suit or something.
Those of you who know me, know what I wear - an alb. And I have since I was ordained elder by in 1992. It was a conscious choice for me to do that. Prior to that time, I wore my academic, black robe with pride.
I associated it with memories of what I remember my dad wearing in the pulpit. The black, academic robe has a place in the history and even the present for clergy in The United Methodist Church - but not for me.
When I was ordained elder in the church, the alb, as a vestment, sorta found me. Every time I vest in what is, by all accounts, a common garment of a long time ago, I am reminded of who I am, and what I'm called to be as a minister of the Gospel.
Now if I was the sort to sniff out some other agenda (which I am), I'd be left to wonder why at this black tie, oops, I mean black robe event, if I don't have one, I could just wear a suit.
Anybody have a problem with albs - much?
I have no problem whatsoever with those who choose to wear a black robe, that's fine, but don't tell me I'm not welcome to wear what I wear at this high moment in the church.
But we're not all uniform in the procession - we don't all look the same.
So what! Precisely.
It is not our uniformity of apparel that makes clergy one.
It is the covenant we have made that binds us together.
Anything else is foolish window dressing and a waste of time when the Kingdom of God needs women and men to be authentic to who they are as messengers of Good News.
So, here's to the half dozen or so of us who represented tonight in our albs, as well as to those who kept faith with who they are by wearing their black academic robe. Not that we wore a certain garment mattered most, but that we knew there was something about how we understand the ties that bind us linked not to apparel or uniformity, but to vows and an oath.
That's the yoke of obedience, and to that I have vowed my life.
And to the rest, who grumbled because we didn't "conform,"
Get over it.