Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:9-12).

I had checked the census at the hospital in Amory and was glad to find a healthy congregation, as usual. As I was walking through the lobby toward the exit, a young man and his mother, both strangers, were also making their way out. The man asked me “Where are you the minister?” I told him and his mom, and we had a nice conversation, especially about the community Food Pantry First Presbyterian helps sponsor. They knew a couple of our members and spoke highly of the church. I told them about the Animal Blessing that we were planning, and then we went our separate ways.

All that happened because I was wearing a clergy collar. I was recognized as a minister.

All of us need to wear our clergy collars every day. Don’t have one? Believe you’re not a minister? Yes, you do; and yes, you are. In baptism every believer is clothed with Christ and called to service in his name. It is our behavior that identifies us as ministers. The way we act is our “collar,” our distinctive clothing.

What opportunities for conversation, for ministry, for compassionate service, for witness will you have in coming days or even today because you’re wearing your “clergy collar”?

© 2010 Tom Cheatham

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