Stump the Pastor in WaWa or Why I Wear a Clerical Collar

What a long line at WaWa this morning!  I was there on my daily visit to buy coffee, and although it was rush hour both on the road and inside the WaWa there was only one register open.  Thankfully, a guy appeared to open another one.  I made a move to get into the new line, and  a road crew member wearing a reflective vest got there at the same time.  Not just because he looked like a linebacker, I waved him in front of me.

“No, no.”  He said.  “I just want to ask you a question.”

“Okay,” I answered, not sure where this was going.

“Was Lot Abraham’s son?”

An easy one.  I’ll take Bible for $200, Alex.

“No, they were related.  But Lot was Abraham’s nephew.”

“Oh. ”

I started to walk away, my duty done.  But he wasn’t.  Done, I mean.  “Who were those people who came from Lot?  Descended from him?”

Suddenly I had another Jeopardy flashback – the first time I rang in my first game – I stood there the same as contestants I’d made fun of on TV with blank stares like they had no idea why their podium had lit up –  “Who did that?”   Now I was one of them.  I had nothin’.   Those few seconds as time ticked down to Alex’s “Ooooh, sorry” were both too short and forever.

I had nothin’ for the man in the reflective vest, either.  I racked my brain.  “I don’t know.  It’s in Genesis, though.” *

“Oh, okay.”  He said.  And he walked out of the store.

So, that was not the best example of why I wear a clerical collar.  But, does sort of illustrate why I wear the collar most of the time (on days I work, anyway).

Lots of Lutheran pastors choose to make wearing a clerical collar the exception rather than the rule.  And that’s fine.  I understand the reasons for not wearing one – it can be off-putting, especially to folks who haven’t been around churches much or at least in churches where pastors wear clerics.

But I do have my own reasons for my choice.  It’s not because it took me 9 years of part-time study to finish seminary and I earned it, by golly!  No, that’s not it.  Nor is it a desire to exhibit some kind of spiritual authority or to get leniency from State Troopers.  Nope, in fact I drive more carefully when I’m wearing the collar because I feel like I’m not just representing myself.

It’s also not that it makes hospital visits a lot easier because you don’t have explain to medical staff why you’re showing up.  Although that is a benefit.

And it’s even not because I’m so surprised to be a pastor that I need the reminder every time I look in the mirror (although that might have been part of it early on!).

The primary reason I choose to wear a clerical collar is something I heard a pastor say a long time before I was one:  “I don’t take off the collar when I go to the store; you never know when someone there might need a pastor.”

If I hadn’t been wearing the collar, I probably wouldn’t have had the discussion a while back with the Sandwich Artist (that’s really what they’re called) at Subway about how she drifted away from her faith and how she was feeling like she really needed a blessing right then.  I wouldn’t have had the encounter at another WaWa with the Assistant Manager who had a few things that were bothering him about the Bible.  And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pray with the Grocery Store checkout lady who was feeling overwhelmed with health and family issues.

That is why I wear a clerical collar.  Most of the time – not on my day off, not around the house, not to bed (the plastic tab wouldn’t be real comfortable).  But out and about on days I’m not off  . . . you never know who might need a pastor.

And while I’m on the collar, some folks have asked why I wore one  on Jeopardy, but only on the second of the five regular shows I was on.  Well, they want you to wear different clothes every “day” (although five games are taped in a day, you bring several sets of clothes in case you win so each game looks like a new day).  I didn’t wear it for the first game because I had no idea how I would do – I  wanted to embarrass only myself if disaster struck.  I wore it the second game because I had won . . . and who knows if there would be a third game.

And something about the collar before that second game as I described it in the blog I wrote about my Jeopardy experience:

After winning the first game, I returned to the Green Room (still not really green) to change clothes.  I got my clergy shirt on, then went to grab the plastic white tab (that fits into the collar) from my garment bag.  The problem was . . . it wasn’t there. I fished around in the pockets of the garment bag, but there was no tab. It was DIY time – I asked Contestant Coordinator Tony if there was any white cardboard around.  He and Contestant Coordinator Corinna went on a search, and located a sheet of cardboard.   And some scissors.  Then I spent my last moments in the Green Room cutting out a strip of the cardboard that fit into my collar.  They said it was the first time they’d ever dealt with that problem!  If you watched the show on HD, you might have noticed that the tab was a little frayed around the edges from my inexpert cutting.

As you can see in this picture, I did wear a clerical collar the first of my two games on the J! Tournament of Champions.

*  I looked up who descended from Lot – the Moabites and the Ammonites.  I hope I run into that guy again!

About pastordavesimpson

I'm an unexpected pastor. Why unexpected? Because no one is more surprised than me that I'm a pastor. See the "About" page on my blog for more info.
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5 Responses to Stump the Pastor in WaWa or Why I Wear a Clerical Collar

  1. Anonymous says:

    With your collar on or off you always are helping a lot of people. I’ve got a feeling you will run into that guy again. Let me know when you do.


  2. Anonymous says:

    How can you let me know when you run into that guy if I don’t sign my name. Joyce S.


  3. Deacon Tom Lang says:

    I sure hope and pray that someday my Bishop has an epiphany and comes to see and understand that THIS is why his Deacons want to wear the clergy shirt!


    • You can always send the Bishop a link to the blog. 🙂 It sure does seem like a good idea to have more visible folks out in the world who can be the hands, feet – and ears – of Christ for those in WaWas and grocery stores and wherever there are people who need that encounter.

      Thanks for reading the blog. Hope you will come back and join the discussion again!


  4. Pingback: Ram Tough | The Unexpected Pastor

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