Monday, March 24, 2014

St. Arbuck's and the Priest

Last week I had to run to the store for something before getting to school to teach, and because I had 5 minutes, ran into Starbuck's for a drink.  I have not done a lot of running around in my collar.  Mostly when I have it on, I run to school on chapel days, or to church, by way of school where the kids are used to me wearing it.

Starbuck's was different, though.  In the usual fashion, I was greeted warmly and with caffeinated enthusiasm.  I ordered my drink, and then I got, "So, I guess you work in a church, huh?"

Trying to be witty, I asked, "How could you tell?"

I got a polite chuckle.  But then the cashier said, "I thought the, uh, collar, that's called a collar, right? The collar was a church thing, or maybe you were making a fashion statement."

Not sure what type of fashion would make this statement, but I smiled.  Then she asked me if I was there for a meeting because, "there were some church people meeting in here earlier."

"No," I responded, "I tried to give up meetings for Lent, but they wouldn't let me.  Just to go, today.  Needed a pick me up."

Her phrase church people took me back to my college days, and the Church Lady on SNL.  Not a good image, and I was fascinated in wonder by what made somebody stand out as a church person.  My collar was my giveaway, but for other people, language?  Conversation?  Big cross necklaces?  I should have asked.

I am always fascinated by groups that identify themselves by the outward: nun's habits, priest's collars, Mennonite headwear, Amish beards and suspenders.  But what should be the identifiers, the markers to our faith.  That refrain haunts and encourages me: "yes they'll know we are Christians by our love, yes our love, yes they'll know we are Christians by our love."  Please Lord, make it so.  Everything else is, as the cashier put it, a fashion statement.

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Blessings, Rock