The Outer Robe

Bishop James reflects on the "outer robe" that we wear as a symbol of our ministry in his sermon at the Diocesan Eucharist.

Diocesan Chrism Eucharist sermon

Bishop James contemplates a calling to ministry which assumes power and authority but urges ministers to consider "the outer robe", the symbol of that authority.

The Bishop stated "Here is a conundrum of our call to ministry, to ministerial office – our calling to minister in the church involves assuming power and authority and it’s expressed in the robes with which we are clad. Be it deacon, priest or bishop it is the robe, the vestment that differentiates us from the people of God the laity." He asked "how do we recover and refresh our calling to serve uncorrupted by the status and power of our position?"

Bishop James said "Similarly, as a curate, vicar or bishop or lay minister we inhabit a role and with that “outer robe” bring huge affirmation to people." He added “the outer robe” has a place. But never forget it is an “outer robe” and must never be confused with the inner person."

The Bishop concluded "Maundy Thursday is the day for the inner person to disrobe of the trappings of office however blessed they may be to follow Christ to his knees, to “take off the outer robe” and to come “Just as I am”. So let me ask – when you come forward to receive the Sacrament why don’t we consciously leave “the outer robe” in our seats. Come as you truly are. Retrace your steps and rewind the film to that day before you were ordained, before you were licensed, collated, inducted or installed. And don’t put “the outer robe” back on until you have let him wash you".