Robes of office. Clerical robes can arouse all sorts of emotions both within, and without the church. Instantly identifiable , the collar sets a priest apart, and may signal all sorts of things, depending on the perspective of the person catching sight of it. It was very strange to try one on for the first time today, and realise that it will become a regular part of my life in the fairly near future. Trying on cassocks etc, reminded me of some thoughts I had last year out of my regular cycle of readings , post BAP ( selection conference for ordination training) .
My readings at the moment have been all through Exodus and Leviticus and all about the tabernacle and anointing and consecration of priests etc.. God has said quite a bit surprisingly perhaps, through these rather detailed chapters..
One thing particularly struck me and will stay with me. Long detailed descriptions of beautiful linen and decorations for the priestly garments.. the best of the best – given and made by those offering their handcrafts to God …then
Exodus 29 21.. Moses was to take some of the blood spilled as a both a sin offering ( the bull) and the burnt offering ( the ram) which had been put all around the altar and some of the anointing oil and “sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and on their garments”
Beautiful fine linen – blood and oil spattered.
Very dramatic and very symbolic.
Huge visual statement – that the priests were stained with the blood of sin and sacrifice and also with the aromatic oils with which they had been anointed… their clothes will have been doubly fragrant ! The unpleasant metallic smell of blood, and the beautiful smell of anointing oil also used in worship, signifying the presence of God.
One thing to be anointed and do the sacrifices – but to be ritually spattered too.. set apart, but stained and indelibly marked too. Beauty and blood side by side.
A friend of mine who is a priest, shared with me that as he breaks the bread ( or wafer) at communion..it is a reminder that the priest brings his/her own brokenness to God and offers all of that as they concelebrate with the people.. that too has stayed with me and somehow links into the thoughts these passages have stirred .
The cycle of readings has swung around again to the same passages, and here am I, trying on beautiful priestly garments, crafted by skilled hands.