New Clothes

Posted on February 24, 2012

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As an Anglican I wear vestments to lead worship. In England I robed in a vestry, in the United States I robe in a sacristy. I prefer the term “vestry” but I can’t use it back in the USA without causing confusion. A Vestry is PEOPLE, to misquote Robert Thorn.

When you have robed in as many vestries (forgive me) as I have, you begin to notice particular prayer plaques or cards set up by priests that have come before you to help you prepare. I think I have found what I would like on a card to read as I leave the vestry for my prayer desk and the pulpit. It is George Herbert’s poem Aaron written around 1633.

The poem always catches me in how with such few words Herbert reminds me what Holy Scripture teaches: I am as a sinner who struggles in old Adam’s garment, and who I am new in Jesus Christ – it is in his righteous garment that I am now clothed!

Aaron

Holiness on the head,
Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons drest.

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest :
Poor priest ! thus am I drest.

Only another head
I have another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest :
In Him I am well drest.

Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me e’en dead ;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in Him new drest.

So holy in my Head,
Perfect and light in my dear Breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come, people ;  Aaron’s drest.