The stole I received on Friday night did not come off the hanger in a liturgical vestments shop. It was custom made for me by my good friend S. It is unique and special.
Stoles carry symbols, often crosses, or flames, symbols that are meaningful to the wearer and which will invoke meaning in those that see it as well. The colour of the stole also has meaning
My stole has two symbols. The first, closest to the top is a stylized dove. The dove is the universal symbol for the Holy Spirit. The dove on my stole faces out symbolizing the Holy Spirit’s movement out from me through the preaching of the word. It reminds me that my words are empty on their own, just words, unless they are empowered by the Holy Spirit. It also assures me that it is not my job, solely, to connect with my listeners. I don’t work alone.
The second symbol is the denominational symbol, the cross superimposed on a triangle representing the trinity. This symbol has been turned into a fish, the same sort of fish you see on the backs of lots of cars, the same fish early Christians used to identify themselves to each other in times of persecution. The Greek word ἰχθύς means fish, but was seen as an acrostic, using the first letter of the words Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ which are translated Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. Thus, the fish.
All of this is on a white background. Many pastors have multiple stoles for use during the different seasons of the church. Mine is white, and for now anyway will be the only one. Since I will likely only use the stole for “special” events white works even though it may not be totally liturgically correct.
The stole is the most cherished physical gift of Friday night.