Friday, March 19, 2010

vestments. any emerging theology? other than bling the bish?

Plea for help from a student: they are doing a paper on worship and specific research on vestments. (Apparently, they are popular in Uniting Churches in other parts of Australia, but not as much here in South Australia. I’ve certainly not seen them in my church-seeking travels as yet.) The student has an interest in the emerging church and so popped in wondering if there has been any recent emerging theologising in this area?

They kept stressing the word “theologise”. They think this should be more than just a personal – will I, won’t I – bling the bish – type issue; they want to make a decision based on theology, not on personal preferences.

Anyone of my readers know of any good thinking around vestments, worship and emerging cultures?

(There’s theology in the video actually:

  • vestments to increase “mystery”
  • incarnational inclusivity – what to wear “to enter God’s house” and do vestments work towards, or away from, new cultural forms of dress
  • “bless, bless” and what human agency can be involved in enacting blessing)
Posted by steve at 02:20 PM


  1. You could have a look at the book ‘Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition’ Eds. Steven Croft & Ian Mobsby & the anglimergent site. If I was the student, I’d be doing some thinking around tradition, creativity, colour, the use of symbol & religious art, and how vestments encapsulate these.

    Comment by Chris McLeod — March 19, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  2. no, but they ought to look at the official UCA fashion guide. serious. And, seriously, it would be interesting to reflect on changing notions of fashion,

    Comment by craig mitchell — March 19, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  3. Moot in London have a set of white hoodies – quite Benedictine looking – for worship leaders – ordained and lay. Connects to the baptismal robe – and the idea that our vocations are by virtue of baptism.

    Might also be interesting to think about neomonastic ideas about simplicity of dress.

    When I wear vestments that belong to a particular community – particularly chasuble and stole – it is simultaneously impersonal and personal. (I don’t know that that’s quite the right language). It is like I am wearing the same thing that any priest/presider in this community would wear. This is about a role in a community, and anyone who the community gives consent to wearing those garments (ordained and called) could do what I am about to do with and on behalf of the community. At the same time it is me, my physical body, that bears those vestments into that place. I am cladding myself in those particular garments which symbolise hospitality and service for that community.

    Don’t know that that’s particularly emergent nor very articulate theologising but that’s what I’m thinking in any case!

    Comment by Jemma — March 19, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  4. thanks folk. i’m picking up a sense that there are 2 colliding trajectories at work.

    one is that use of vestments makes for great theatre – symbolism etc.

    the other is that it’s meant to focus on the role more than the person, in some ways making the priest sort of plain.

    I’m wondering if these are not a bit contradictory?

    steve, the blingless baptist

    Comment by steve — March 22, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  5. Blingless? Remember that ear?

    Comment by Ingrid — March 22, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  6. Ha! I’m not aware of baptists needing earrings to be ministers. In fact, my earrings were part of my being a Christian, not a minister :). A cross as a way of honouring “Take up your cross”, a koru as a prayer for God’s growth in and through my life,


    Comment by steve — March 22, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

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