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Last week, I stopped by a local doughnut shop to pick up treats for some of our church volunteers.  The staff needed to make a fresh pot of coffee, so I had to wait by the counter.  After a couple of minutes, the woman who had been helping me approached me and said, “Okay, settle a bet for us.  Are you a nun or a pastor?”

anglican-collar

Photo credit:  https://blackandwhiteandlivingincolor.com/2014/01/16/coffeehouse-musings-why-i-wear-my-anglican-collar-sometimes/

I get questions about my collar all the time.  Most people are not as courageous and will simply stare – usually with a furrowed brow of confusion.  Others will only confess that they always wondered what that “thing” was I wore when we finally get around to talking about our jobs.  Sometimes people will ask if the Roman Catholic Church started ordaining women (trust me – you would know if they had!).  Of course, my favorite experiences have been when I have been both in a collar and pregnant.  That really confuses people!

Once I finally confessed I was a “pastor” to the doughnut shop, one of the women working the drive-through said, “Oh good!  Can you pray for us?”  We had a great conversation after that, and I promised to keep them in my prayers for the rest of the day as I departed.  But as I left, I realized two things.  First, being a priest in my community is a tremendous blessing.  It allows me to have deep, intimate conversations with people a lot more quickly than you would with most strangers.  It allows me to not only be a pastor with my own parishioners, but everywhere I go in my collar.  It allows me to stretch the reach of the Church beyond the walls of our church.

But what I also realized when I left that shop is that talking about the need for prayer probably would not have happened had I not had on my collar.  I am constantly inviting my parishioners to have faith conversations outside the context of our community, but that day I realized how challenging that invitation can be.  A clergy collar is like an automatic ice breaker – it is an invitation for you to say, “Oh good!  Can you pray for us?!?”  But how do we break the ice without such tools?  How can I let the grocery clerk, the delivery man, or the construction worker know that I want to pray for them too – even when I am in my sweats?  How do we get beyond the perfunctory greetings and start having real conversations?  This week, I invite us all to consider how we might start such a journey toward authentic, meaningful conversations about the intersection of our individual journeys and the presence of Christ in our lives.  Know that I will be praying for us both as we figure it out!

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