Last week I posted my thoughts about Preaching from the Lectionary. I ended that article by saying that not only did this Baptist preacher take his text from the revised common lectionary, but I also preached in a robe. Well, the robe-thing apparently intrigued a couple of readers who asked that I elaborate.
Why do I preach in a robe? This Baptist in the free church tradition? Here’s why:
- I like wearing a robe. Mine is a black academic gown with black velvet panels — very plain, but nice. About 20-years ago I started wearing a black robe for weddings, which eliminates having to be fitted for a tux. I had worn robes on special occasions, but never regularly until 2003, when I was the interim pastor of a United Methodist church. They wanted me to wear a robe, and I wore one every Sunday.
- Wearing a robe eliminates wardrobe problems. Remember Janet Jackson’s infamous Superbowl “wardrobe failure?” I no longer have to worry if my tie is too bright, my shirt is untucked, or my zipper is …you guessed it. “A robe,” as they say, “covers a multitude of sins.”
- A minister’s robe fits our worship. Okay, this is where I start to get serious. We worship in an old Victorian Gothic sanctuary built in 1890. We have a pipe organ and choir in a real loft (8-feet above the pulpit), and our worship style is Virginia traditional. Lots of Baptist preachers in Virginia wear robes, which might be a holdover from Virginia’s Episcopal past.
- We observe the Christian Year. The stoles of different colors — white, red, purple, and green — that I wear on appropriate Sundays help us mark the passing of the Christian Year.
- Our church likes for the pastor to wear a robe. If the church objected, I wouldn’t wear a robe. But several church members suggested that I renew a practice followed by several former pastors.
So, there you are — my five reasons for wearing a robe. There may be more, but that’s probably enough for a Sunday night.