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Last week I postedDebbie and me (in my robe), and a special guest, on our church’s 150th anniversary 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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.”
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.