The Stole, Images

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

CameraAwesomePhoto (2)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.

CameraAwesomePhoto (1)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.

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The Stole

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Photo Courtesy Annelies Numan

My ordination service, in the Christian Reformed Church, was an odd and wonderful thing. It is unusual for a minister to be ordained in his home/childhood church. I have been part of the congregation where I now serve for over 40 years. I’m older than the regular candidate, and earned my MDiv from a seminary outside my denomination. The service itself was a community event since I have been involved with the other churches in town for many years. It was an awesome and diverse event.

One of the very special, and unique aspects of the evening was the presentation of a stole. A stole is a liturgical vestment which, in some denominations is seen as a sign of ordination and the office of the ministry of Word and Sacrament. In my part of the world the use of a stole is unusual in our denomination. It is however common in the Lutheran churches, whose seminary I attended.

Photo courtesy Annelies Numan

Photo courtesy Annelies Numan

The stole was given to me by some of my Lutheran friends and presented by Matthew, a Lutheran pastor from Montreal who has become a close friend following a couple of pilgrimage trips mentioned earlier in this blog.

Receiving and wearing the stole has been a wonderful privilege. I love symbolism and will wear the stole for special events, Lord’s supper, baptisms, weddings, and funerals as a symbol of being yoked with Christ.

Matthew 17:28-30

28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”