Monday, June 17, 2013

Our New Pastor Dresses Funny Pt. 3 (Bulletin Article 4)

Receive this stole as a sign of your work, and walk in obedience to the Lord Jesus, serving his people and remembering his promise:  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me: for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  (Rite of Ordination, LBW Occasional Services p.197) 

The next vestment worn—over top of either alb or surplice—is one that is reserved purely for the clergy.  Seminarians (after entry into candidacy) may wear the traditional black shirt and collar, any one serving at the liturgy may wear an alb, but only those who have been received into the Office of Word and Sacrament ministry through the laying on of hands at ordination may wear the stole.  It, more than anything else, is the chief symbol of the pastoral office.  It signifies that the one who wears it has had the yoke of Christ’s ministry placed upon him and he now bears it among His people.  It is the visible sign and reminder that a pastor is not lord over his flock or is free to do anything he wishes, but rather one under the authority of another.  As the bishop makes clear to the ordinand “Before God Almighty to whom you must give account and in the presence of this congregation, I ask…”  

It also serves as a visible reminder to the people that God has raised among them, a fellow forgiven sinner, to serve as an under-shepherd in His stead.  One who, as the Catechism teaches, is to “deal with us by [Christ’s] divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation, and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.  (Small Catechism–Office of the Keys). 

Stoles, like chasubles (which I will talk about next week), are worn in the appointed color of the day or season.  It is unnecessary for them to be further decorated with additional symbols (though most are), because the stole itself is the symbol.  The stole has been in use in the Church since about the 5th century.  

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