Friday, July 06, 2007

Don't Hide Jesus

Another truly remarkable bit of wisdom from Giertz's The Hammer of God:

"One ought not talk about oneself, it may hide Jesus from view."*

A reminder every Christian, especially every pastor, should have daily.
* pg 151


Anonymous said...

Is there ever a circumstance when wearing the clerical collar could be "talking about oneself" too loudly?

Jim Roemke said...

Is this the same Anon?!
To answer your question-yes.
To further elaborate-we are all by nature sinful and unclean,we all by nature chafe at putting aside ourselves and presenting Jesus. Every pastor must be secure in himself whether or not the wearing or not wearing of a clerical collar aids or hinders the proclamation of the gospel.

When I was in the seminary I think I liked it a bit too much. Now I am serving a parish, I think I like it a bit to little. I haven't been out here long, but I do get tired of wearing it because I get sick of being identified as clergy, which in our Lutheran understanding is an office representing Christ and His gospel.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, yes, the same "Anon".

I've known some Lutheran pastors who wear the collar around most of the time, and I've known some Lutheran pastors who wore regular shirts on the weekdays. As far as "presenting Jesus" is concerned, with or without the collar, the level of presentation was the same to me. But, that was probably because I knew already that the man was a pastor. When out amongst strangers, I suppose it might be beneficial to identify yourself as a pastor by wearing the collar. In my mind, whether a pastor has his collar on or off, he is still "presenting Jesus". If he wore filthy clothing out in public, or swore or got drunk with or without the collar, then I would be concerned about his presentation of Jesus.

One of the pastors who rarely wore his collar once handed out this poem to his confirmation class (oddly enough, many years ago when I was a teen, someone had given me the same poem, which got pasted to my dresser mirror so I could see it every morning):

"You're writing a gospel,
A chapter each day;
By deeds that you do,
By words that you say.
Others read what you write,
Whether faithless or true.
What is the gospel,
According to you?"

Good food for thought, in my opinion, for all of us, even for pastors, and especially for teens.

Many congratulations to you and your wife as you prepare for parenthood. What a grand adventure and awesome privilege! I have four children, the oldest to be married soon, to a wonderful Christian man who happens to attend an ELCA church. You never know.....such a thing could happen in your family someday. Its amazing how babies grow up to become adults.....never forget, that is the aim of parenthood. My best advice for parenting: Have high expectations for your children's behavior, and always let them know that. Don't ever say to them....."You are so naughty", because then that is exactly what they will be. I speak from many years of being a parent and observing other parenting styles. Also, make sure your children have chores to do around home. Those responsibilities build self-respect and maturity, characteristics needed for success later in life.

Goodness, I must quit this blathering on on your blog site. Maybe I should get my own blog. You get to be my age and you suddenly feel like you have lots to say about your many life experiences. Not that anyone wants to listen, though! Just wait.

On growing up in the Boomer years.....actually, I was at the tail end of the Baby Boom. Some of the idealism of the hippies and the desire to not always blindly follow the establishment filtered down to us, I suppose. I now greatly appreciate not growing up with things like cell phones, computers, calculators, DVD movies, etc.

God blessings to you!

Jim Roemke said...

Well, Anon, thanks for "blathering," I appreciate your honesty and willingness to communicate openly and civilly. Thanks for the poem, I may just pass that one out to my first confirmation class!

I am one of those pastors who wears the collar everyday. It is difficult, but good for me. It's a constant reminder to me of my calling and the importance of living the gospel. My own home pastor, whom I have a great amount of respect for, only wears the collar on "special" occasions.

Thanks again for the parental advice. My wife and I are a bit anxious about raising a "pastor's kid," but we both agree on expecting good behavior and many of the other things you suggested. Please, feel free to comment anytime on my blog. I'm actually growing quite fond of seeing "Anon" in my e-mail box!

The Lord be with you!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I was just out taking a walk and it occurred to me.....I have no idea what the design of the clerical collar is supposed to symbolize. Can you provide the answer? It must be a theological symbol of something beyond simply being the identifying sign of a clergyman.


Jim Roemke said...

It's funny you should ask, I just wrote a worship article for the weekly bulletin about the significance of the clerical collar. There may be different ideas out there and mine may not be the most complete explanation, but it is what I was taught:
The pastor is a servant of Christ, and as such, dresses in a modest way. The clerical collar is a reminder, not only to the pastor, but to Christ’s people whom he serves, that as a man he is just as sinful as anyone (that is the reason traditional clerical collars are black, a color traditional representative of dirt or stain). It is an important reminder to a pastor that he is also in dire need of that forgiveness of Christ. The only part of a clerical shirt that is not black is around the neck. There are two styles of clerical collars. The one I always wear is called the “Roman” style. This clerical shirt has a small while tab in the front. The other style typically worn by Lutheran pastors is called the “Anglican” style and is a complete white band that goes all the way around the neck. The significance in the actual collar is two-fold. One, as the rest of the shirt is black to remind us of the pastor’s own sinfulness and need for Christ, the white tab covers the voice box. As the pastor faithfully preaches and teaches and in general speaks as a representative of Christ to the church, his voice is holy. White is traditionally a color of purity and holiness. It is only by speaking God’s Word faithfully that a pastor is holy. The other significance, especially in the Anglican collar, is that of Christ’s warning to teachers in Matthew 18:6:
“…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

In short, I wear a clergy shirt everyday to remind myself of my obligation to God’s Word and my calling to serve you, His people, with that holy Word.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation of the clerical collar symbolism. I have never heard it explained before. I especially did wonder about the white tab in it makes sense!

Back to the parenting subject.....don't get hung up on the idea of raising a "pastor's kid". He or she will simply be a child, no other labels are, relax. With lots of parental prayer and trust in God's divine providence, kids usually grow up adequately, despite the parents' inevitable shortcomings. You obviously will be doing your best to raise your child in the Christian faith, and surely God honors such intention, even through the ups and downs that come along.

I will enjoy reading your blog on a regular basis. I live in Iowa, on a farm..... a wonderful place to be.

Actually, my church is in a vacancy right now. I pray fervently for the right pastor to come our way to help our church survive and thrive. Our church had its beginnings many years ago when huge farm families kept the sanctuary filled. Things are much different now.....farming has changed, and families are much smaller. I don't know what the future holds, but we certainly don't need a pastor who turns people away from coming to church.

God bless your day!


Jim Roemke said...

Anon, I also grew up on a farm in northeast Indiana. Things have changed a lot in rural America, but all is not lost. I am serving a small parish in a more rural area that was actually started about 20 years ago by a group of faithful Christians who wanted to remain faithful to Scriptual doctrine and historical Christian worship. They have been thriving and fill a major need, especially amongst younger Christians who actually want to work a little to understand the faith. I'm sure God will give you a pastor who will best serve you and His Church. Has your congregation considered calling from one of the seminaries? I would recommend checking that out.

Please don't hesitate to comment on anything and if I can ever answer any of your questions outside of the blog, e-mail me at
The Lord be with you!