A Liberating Collar


I have heard it say the bit of white plastic inserted into a clerical shirt is reminiscent of a slaves collar! Others say it originated from a need to differentiate the ordained from the laity and began its life as a humble cravat.

The kind of people who wear it are presumed to be men and women who believe in jesus’s death and resurrection and are ordained church leaders. Yet who hasn’t read of priests and ministers who abuse their power and wear the same uniform. Who hasn’t heard of opposing church leaders at loggerheads yet wearing the same plastic slip in collar.

At its heart the clerical shirt and its collar is a symbol of something bigger than church politics or the unethical priest, bigger than church divisions and evangelical and liberal arguments. It is a door opener, it sends a message before you even open your mouth. I haven’t worked out what universally that message is yet, perhaps you could leave a comment!

I am one of the clerical collar wearing brigade, and often am so busy encouraging others to see Gods big vision, I sometimes forget myself in the minutia of a complex meeting or some theological argument that seems life and death, that around my neck is the big picture.

The big picture of a God who sees and knows my name. The collar becomes a slave statement to one thing, that of Gods purpose and provision. Not church, not theological sticking points. Instead to the one truth that God is love, and he wants relationship with us through Jesus and that is the message my congregations needs to hear.  Be nurtured in and centred around. Not what colour the carpets are, or whether or what worship should be.

Overtime the collar disappears figuratively and literally, as it becomes who you are. Indeed in some places not wearing the collar is very appropriate, but it doesn’t mean your less it means more than ever you become what the collar represents and embodies, a pointing to a bigger dimension.

Happily scripture reminds us that we are all part of a priesthood of believers, we are all sons and daughters of God and in him have particular roles and duties. let us not let our day to day be so focused we miss Gods big picture for his global mission. Let us control our tongues from tearing down what God needs to be built, increased, nurtured, loved and cherished, his church, the people of God.

So lets wear the meaning of the clerical collar with pride, seeking the best for others in Gods economy without prejudice, without regard for self, but pointing people to a deeper meaning and a deeper narrative of hope. In fact this is something we should all be doing ordained or not. Listening for a narrative steeped in the timelessness of God three in one, and as we speak may the presence of the Living one impress on others, challenge, bring hope conviction and liberation.

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