Full disclosure. I have my clergy collar on today. It’s a thing I do on Ash Wednesday because I carry ashes with me wherever I go today. I try to spend most of the day in public places, today that’s not really happening. Also full disclosure, I hate wearing it. Not because it’s uncomfortable, but it’s kind of like Bruce Wayne walking around with his batman costume on without the mask.
Okay… bad analogy, I’m no batman.
The point is I feel very exposed. I feel that the world holds me to a high standard. First, I hold myself to very high standards, but the standards they place on me and I place on myself are very different (at least in my head). As a culture we assume many things about people that are pastors that I have spent a long time fighting against. A pastor isn’t what it used to be.
I was ordained at the height of the Clergy Abuse Scandal. I had a professor once admit that she was weary of anyone becoming a pastor or priest in this day and age. Nixon brought down our trust in government, but the church has had a lot longer to be dishonest, it’s one of the ways we’ve survived. It’s one of the many reasons people are leaving the church. The church has, lied to its people.
Today I have too many balls in the air. I am trying to do too many things at once, I didn’t sleep well last night, and I’m overwhelmed to say the least.
So while sitting in my office and the church doorbell rings I groan. I don’t have time for this!!
I answer the door and a young man in his early 20’s tells me he hit a car this morning, he didn’t stop, but he saw them pull into the parking lot and wanted to get in touch with them and set things straight.
“Really?!” I thought. Wow. Just. Good for him.
Bad for him for driving away in the first place, but sometimes we panic. It happens. When we do something wrong, especially something that surprises us we panic. We try to convince ourselves it’s okay and that it’s not a big deal. But lies eat at us.
I’ve been there. I used to lie so easily, it’s how I survived. The biggest and longest lie I’ve ever told sounded like this. “I’m fine, how are you? No, everything’s great.”
But there’s confession, there’s community, they’s the opportunity to set things straight, there’s a seeking of wholeness. That looks like many different things. It looks like, “Today’s a bad day.” It looks like returning to the scene of a crime, it looks like admitting a mistake and asking for forgiveness.
Today I wear my clergy collar and will go to the grocery, probably the liquor store, maybe to Starbucks. I will carry my ashes and have to allow whatever people think of me to be what it is. I will be exposed. I will do it anyway. Because wearing this collar is also my confession to the world.
I am a pastor, a member of the clergy, I am broken, I am not perfect. But I will also be as honest as I can about who I am, I will be as honest as I can to live what I believe. Even if it means I ask forgiveness after I have committed a sin. I will tear off the mask I hide behind and claim who I am and what I do. And if God chooses me today to create some healing and trust? Then I will be blessed.
I will remember what today is, what I should remember everyday. I will remember that every moment is precious in God’s sight, and it should be in mine too. I have but one life. I will remember that I am dust, and to dust I shall return.