Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The dignity of the robe

A seminary president tells the story of the ordination service of a ministerial candidate in his denomination. It was common in such ordinations for the candidate to end the service by doing something official in their new position as minister. The services are solemn, impressive, and meaningful. On this occasion, the candidate was to stand, walk up the steps into the chancel, turn, and pronounce the benediction. This was to be his first act as a newly ordained minister.

The time arrived, the candidate solemnly stood, approached the steps, and ascended. But on the first step, he accidentally stepped inside the hem of his clerical robe. The poor ordanee kept climbing the steps... all the time walking up inside his robe. Each step made him smaller as he was forced to "duck-walk" up inside his own robe.

Finally, at the top of the steps, looking like some kind of a dwarf in a white tent, he turned around. His robe could not turn with him, since he was standing inside it. The act of turning placed the left arm of his robe right in the center of his chest and the right arm was somewhere between his shoulders. All he could move was his left wrist from the center of his chest, arms pressed tight against his body by the constriction of the robe. With a wave of his wrist he pronounced the benediction, solemnly, not missing a word.

When he was finished, unable to take another step from his duck-walk posture inside his robe, he was helpless. Two husky ushers came forward, picked him up by his armpits and carried him off stage like some piece of furniture.

That would have been something wonderful to behold. I just love the foibles of ministry. Consider this quote from Dana L. Farnsworth,

A sense of humor...is not so much the ability to appreciate humorous stories as it is ... the capacity to recognize the absurdity of the positions one gets into from time to time together with the skill in retreating from them with dignity.

Just a thought. Ed (extracted from Moments for Pastors, Robert Strand, Day 4)

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