Weeding in the Collar

Heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the LORD your God, the earth with all that is in it.
~Deuteronomy 10:14

All of creation, heaven, the heaven of heavens, and the earth belong to God. And so as children of God, we steward as best we can. We work to care for God’s creation, for God’s earth and God’s people. And one way we do that at Bethany is with our annual spring cleanup. Over the course of a Saturday morning, many of us gather to clean, to weed, to mow, and to help care for the grounds where we gather and worship.

As I got ready for Clean Up this week, I didn’t think much about my wardrobe. Except that I knew I would have our Small Seeds kids group right after clean up ended. And then a memorial service was scheduled right after that. So I put on my old jeans, knowing they would get dirty and packed a change for later. And, without even thinking about it, I realized I wanted to protect my clerical collar shirt. So I put on a t-shirt over it.

It didn’t even occur to me not to wear my collar.

Is that really comfortable?

If you know me well or if you have read my older blog post about my collar, then you know I wear a collared shirt most of the time. The collar has become a part of who I am as “Pastor Megan”. And I really don’t think twice about it. So I didn’t totally have an answer when one of our members from Bethany was curious as to why I wore my collar while I was weeding.

I had simply responded, “Well, I’m here being Pastor, even when I’m on my knees in the dirt.” Which was simple, to the point, and true. But I’m not entirely sure if my answer made sense. Especially if you hadn’t read my older post or listened to me talk about it before. Thinking about it later, the question became a great meditation. It was such a good question, one I hadn’t really even thought about.

Because if you never worn a clerical collar (or only worn really uncomfortable button up collar shirts), you might wonder. How could that be comfortable? Doesn’t it get hot? Wouldn’t it be easier not to have it on?

And the quick answers are: the clerical shirts I own are really fantastic, and are actually really comfortable. They breathe well, and so of course I got warm like everyone else did, but not much warmer than if I had just been in a t-shirt. And for me, I don’t know if it would have been easier.

But now that I’ve thought about it, I’m really glad I wore my collar.

Toiling in Creation

Because in some ways, my collar does set me apart. Of course. It marks me as pastor, and more than anything, it marks me as me. It is a public sign of my faith and my pastoral role. It’s a reminder to myself of God’s calling to me. And especially when I’m at the church and ministering with our members and friends, it’s just me.

I know that we can sometimes put an emphasis on the collar, make it into something special and austere. Something that must be respected with all the authority that the small white tab requires. And sure, that’s true to an extent.

And as the collar might be a mark or a sign of the pastoral role. As it might garner some respect or authority. It also marks us as being servants. A big part of being pastor, especially for me, is being down in the dirt with my people. Serving together. Toiling in creation together. Weeding the garden plots together. Even in my collar. Maybe even especially in my collar.

I’m grateful for the question, because I don’t know if I would have thought much about it otherwise. The collar has just become so much a part of my daily routine, that sometimes I forget I’m wearing it. But I am grateful for the time to contemplate, to meditate on the times I choose to wear the collar. And how meaningful it is to me to be a servant, and to serve together with God’s beloved children.

Pastor Megan Filer