Archive for February 8, 2007

Can a Robe Obscure the Gospel?

John Wesley RobeNow, I’m not sure this is really John Wesley, but we’ll let that slide for the sake of the larger conversation I want to have. I’ve heard all the arguments for wearing a preaching robe. Heck, I even like wearing a preaching robe. However…sometimes I wonder if it is something I prefer rather than something that aids in the translation and communication of the Gospel. I preach in a pretty rural area, and most people outside of the United Methodist churches I serve have never seen someone preach in a robe before. Sometimes I wonder if it is so strange to some of our visitors that it obscures the very preaching of the Gospel and even prevents them from returning. I’ve thought about this from a missional/contextual point of view. If we went to Papua New Guinea, for example, would we wear the traditional dress of a minister or pastor who had preached there for years, or would we drag out our pulpit robes or albs and begin to preach regardless of the local culture? I don’t think any responsible missionary would do that. In the same way, is it presumptuous or culturally insensitive for UM clergy to wear a robe (or alb) in a rural setting where people are more familiar with pastors wearing a nice buisness suit when they preach? Perhaps the value of a robe or alb overcomes any objections. What do you think? These are questions that I care about, and I hope there may some of you who can share your thoughts on this. I know these issues might be different for female clergy – I’d like to hear about that as well.  Any experiences or thoughts you’d like to share?

February 8, 2007 at 1:37 pm 14 comments


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