June is here and with it very heavy rain. The good news is that it has done the trees the world of good. The trees around the Church were looking rather sad, but they are now a luscious green. We are fortunate in this district of Hong Kong to have quite a few trees around and about.
Green, of course, is also the liturgical colour for the next few months and yesterday at Christ Church we dedicated a new green Chasuble. We use vestments in our worship here. While they attract less controversy than they used to, I know that some Christians are uneasy about using them. The neighbouring Anglican Church, for example, doesn't always bother with any form of clerical dress in services.
I remember when I was first ordained, some ordinands objected to wearing even a stole for the ordination service seeing it as symbolic of a Catholic approach to priesthood. I didn't feel particularly strongly either way, but equally, I didn't really give the matter much thought. However, when I found myself in a situation where vestments were the norm, I did find myself thinking more seriously about their use and came to the conclusion that there was in fact quite a lot to be said for them.
Not only do they provide a link with the past, (vestments, after all, have been worn in church services for many hundreds of years), they also provide colour and physical beauty. Such colour and beauty can enhance a liturgical service. The argument against them, of course, is that they imply that the wearer is somehow separated from the rest of the worshippers. They also suggest that something special is happening at Communion. I certainly don't feel separated from the congregation when I wear them, but I most certainly do think something special is happening!
I think there is room in the Church for diversity of practice. There are plenty of Churches that do not use vestments for people to go to if they that offended by their use. However, for those of us who value liturgy, they are an additional way of engaging all our senses in worship. Vestments also provide a way to celebrate the artistic gifts and talents of those who make them.
All this means, of course, that there is no place for worn-out and badly kept vestments. God deserves the best of us in our worship whether we wear vestments or not. Hence yesterday's new chasuble!
And, I am pleased to say, we have more on order.