Friday, September 1, 2017

Casual Sundays in the C of E. . .


https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/aa2dffc5174283cdd8aaa727b0ce03b6c6f7078c/0_186_5072_3046/master/5072.jpg?w=620&q=20&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&dpr=2&s=f19e834bdef471aec7b139f3a17ff936 Ahhh. . . where to begin.  Vestments is not "dressing up" but ordinary dress (from the cassock/surplice/stole/tippet to full Eucharistic vestments).  These are the vesture of office and not personal choices of what to wear by the individuals.  But, well, so many think it is dressing up that I am probably wasting my time, anyway.  In any case, the C of E known for a good ceremonial apparently now wants to be known for casual demeanor.  Now I suppose this does not matter to a church that has already abandoned tradition in so many ways but I do find it irritating that people believe dressing down will bring people back to a church that has ditched content along with form.  It is just plain foolish.  And for that matter, tell the Queen to wear the crown, too.  And, laugh out loud, the Archbishop of Canterbury is described in the above picture as wearing traditional (form maybe but not style!).  Oh, well. . .

Following Speaker John Bercow’s decision last month to relax the convention requiring male MPs to wear jackets and ties in parliament, the Church of England is to allow clergy to conduct services in civvies.  The C of E’s ruling body, the synod, meeting in York, has given final approval to a change in canon law on “the vesture of ordained and authorised ministers during the time of divine service”.  The measure needs to be approved by the Queen, who swapped her crown for a hat at last month’s state opening of parliament in another sign of dress-down Britain.

Clergy are currently required to wear traditional robes – a surplice or alb with scarf or stole – when taking communion or conducting one-off services such as weddings, funerals or baptisms.  On Monday, the synod rules that clergy could adopt different forms of dress, with the agreement of their parochial church council. Where there is disagreement, the bishop of the diocese will have the final say. For weddings, funerals and baptisms, the consent of the principal participants must be gained.  Traditional
clerical robes date back centuries, but the rules have been increasingly ignored – especially in churches with modern, informal styles of worship.

Some clergy say surplices and albs put off younger people from attending, and set the priest apart from the congregation. Traditionalists maintain the latter is the point of formal vestments.  Alan Smith, the bishop of St Albans, told synod that where traditional forms of vestment were dispensed with, the forms of dress adopted by the minister “must nevertheless be suitable for a minister of the Church of England officiating at divine service”.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you get the feeling they're not going to play this silly game anymore?

Anonymous said...

Lutheran satire had a good video on pink chasubles, which might technically work on the third Sunday of Advent, but which 99.99999% of Lutherans have never seen before, and so would be confusing.

Lutheran vestments have no doubt been defined for Americans by TIME magazine's 1958 cover of America's "Mr. Protestant" Franklin Clark Fry.
http://www.ltsp150.org/mr-protestant-class-of-1925/
For Lutherans, vestments hide the man and focus the attention instead on the divine office of ministry. To read anything more into vestments (i.e. stoles symbolize the yoke of Christ or a holdover from Roman sacrificial garments) is not allowed in Lutheranism. They may be retained, modified, or discarded by the congregation at will. As Luther said, "You are not more commended to God if you bless in vestments or without."

Anonymous said...

The alb and the stole are enough to keep the focus off the pastor
and on Christ. People are not looking for the "best dressed" clergy.
They want a pastor who leads them into a meaningful relationship with
Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Humble servanthood is the best
way to conduct your pastoral ministry.

Anonymous said...

The CoE has truly lost their way, and within a generation will likely disappear completely. They have abandoned the Christian faith, lost their message, and been rejected by their people. What they wear no longer makes much difference.

It was not always this way, and perhaps a time will come again when it matters. In true Anglicanism around the world, proper vestments are still the rule and nobody thinks twice about it. That's just how its done.

Fr.D+
Continuing Anglican Priest

Carl Vehse said...

Anonymous: "For Lutherans, vestments hide the man and focus the attention instead on the divine office of ministry."

Except if the dressed-up man is holding his hands with only the fingertips touching or is wearing a funny hat and holding a funny cane.

A few years ago someone had warned us about religious leaders who wore vestments with broad phylacteries and long fringes and who liked to be honored with fancy titles.

John J. Flanagan said...

I suppose there are those who argue for traditional vestments, and those who prefer a more casual attire. I think I fall in the middle somewhere, but my own observations have taught me that in LCMS churches in which traditional vestments are worn, the service is more reverential and respectful. In LCMS churches where the pastor is dressed casually,, for example, an LCMS pastor wears jeans and bright colored sneakers in one I know, well....the demeanor of the pastor and the casual nature of his approach are reflected in his casual and superficial sermons. They used to say that people dressed better are usually more motivated and act better in social occasions. True or false, I cannot say, but I have seen communion given out in LCMS churches where the young girl assistant wore short shorts in the style of Daisy on the old television show, "The Dukes of Hazzard." In some LCMS churches, a serious pastor would not let that happen, seeing how casualness can embody carelessness in worship. A former LCMS church I attended while living in AZ ensured that the pastor and deacons, communion assistants, choir, were all wearing white gowns and/or vestments or decent attire. I have seen the emergence of the casual attitude and the sloppy attire make its way from the beach and mall to the church....and this is not a good thing for serious worship.

Anonymous said...

I think the argument that if a pastor or laity dresses casually their faith is likewise casual is spurious. Faith is a gift that is nourished through God's word and sacraments. Vestments can cause some to put their faith in the pastor, as God's representative, rather than one called to administer the means of grace to the congregation. This is where the term minister came from. When the pastor announces the absolution, he is exercising corporately for the church the keys and authority given to each and every individual Christian. The old Lutheran church orders used to require the pastors dress one way or another. Lutherans eventually settled on what today would be cassocks and surplices. The congregation's freedom to abandon those for casual attire, or albs and stoles, or croziers and mitres, is as Lutheran as beer and organ music.

Lutheran Lurker said...

I did not know that Lutherans were obligated to what Luther thought of vestments. I thought we were obligated by what the Confessions hold. They do not treat vestments as a must but they are also very careful to say there must be a better reason than preference to depart from the catholic tradition. Church usages and ceremonies do not save but they also are not to be cast aside for casual purpose. But, of course, this article was about the casting aside of all vestments for the sake of the vesture of culture and style. My how we gain by discarding the historic vestments of the Church in favor of something on the pages of a men's style magazine.

Carl Vehse said...

Although no longer active, the website, Bad Vestments, has some good examples.

Anonymous said...

I "can't wait". (Not) till an LGBT "minister" walks into the pulpit dressed in drag.....

John J. Flanagan said...

I don't care what anyone says, it is the casualness of attire which leads to careless worship. And today we see it visibly in our LCMS churches. Nobody says we must be dressed in 16th century vestments with starched collars, but my goodness, when a pastor leads the worship service in jeans and sneakers, gives a casual 10 minute uninspiring sermon, and tells jokes to make the congregation feel more casual, then something has been lost. If that is what some Lutherans want, than they have done great damage to the spirit of true worship and created a demeanor which is not God glorifying.

Carl Vehse said...

To the-chicken-or-the-egg question, I would say that the casual vestments were preceded by the casual attire of the laity appearing sometimes to wear whatever old jeans or playclothes were tossed on the floor the night before... that, along with their clutching the name-brand bottles of water or coffee in decorative, insulated mugs or Starbucks cups, and fiddling with their smart phones during any lag in the service. The only men wearing suits in a Lutheran church anymore are at least octogenarians.

Anonymous said...

Carl, we don't all live in hipster towns.

Carl Vehse said...

Anony, and now you won't be shocked when you visit one.

John J. Flanagan said...

Well, if I live another 7 years, I will become a Lutheran octogenarian myself. And after we are gone, the few remaining, button down collar shirts and dress slacks will be gone along with the rapidly disappearing skirts and dresses from our congregations. I suppose some consider it an ideal situation because they can go straight from Sunday worship service to the volleyball court, where they will be joined by their pastor and the choir.