Prayer: Great and Awesome God, be with those students who are returning to Seminaries. Help them to understand Your call to them and Your words of insight. Help these students to attain wisdom and discipline so that they are grounded in Your love. Amen.
Read Isaiah 61: 10 and Psalm 18: 32 - 33
The Minister and vestments. In the past, Minister’s wore robes during the Worship Service. Robes were worn to distinguish the Minister from lay people as well as (and most importantly) to remind them that they are obliged to clothe themselves in the robes of the Spirit. There are three kinds of robes worn by Ministers in the PCC. The Geneva Gown, the Church of Scotland, and the Alb.
The Geneva Gown is a type of academic robe. These robes were used to signify that the wearer had academic training. In days of old, most Presbyterian ministers wore either the Geneva Gown or the Church of Scotland. The Geneva and Church of Scotland robes are worn over street cloths (or Sunday go To Meeting clothing). Frequently there are hoods attached to the robe. Each of the hoods indicate level of academic training. For Minister’s of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the hood would be a Masters of Divinity. When a Minister receives a Doctorate of Ministry, bars are added to the sleeves of the robe.
About twenty five years ago, Ministers within the PCC began wearing a type of robe called an “Alb”. Traditionally the Alb was worn by Roman Catholic Priests and Anglican Ministers. This robe is usually white in colour to represent the tunic which the soldiers of Pilate put on Christ before his crucifixion. The white robe also reminds us of the angel who announced to the women that the Lord had risen. The colour white reminds the wearer of the purity of body and soul in God which must be part of the wearer at all times.
As Minister’s put on their robes each Sunday, they say to God “My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He has clothed me with the garment of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of joy: He has set a crown on my head like a bridegroom, and like a bride He has adorned me with ornaments” (Isaiah 61: 10)
The Alb is the only robe that uses a Cincture. The cincture is a rope that holds the alb to the body as well as off of the floor. The cincture reminds the wearer that in the time of Jesus, people used to use a cincture to gird themselves before they set out on a journey or undertakes a task. The minister who wears an alb and cincture remembers that a cincture girds him/her on the sacred journey of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the community and world. The cincture reminds the minister that their strength comes from the Lord God Almighty. As the minister types on the cincture, he/she repeats this scripture: “Blessed is God who girds me with strength, and makes my way blameless: who strengthens my feet as hinds’ feet and sets me upon high places” (Psalm 18: 32 – 33).
Prayer: Blessed are You O Lord God Almighty who girds us with Your strength and makes our ways blameless. Strengthen my feet so that we can do Your work in this world. Amen.