Having been dressed up in a cassock and surplice (black coat with a big white sheet over it basically...) at one of my placements before my interview I knew what those were but was promptly lost when mention of a 'Cassock Alb' came up. Luckily my premier purchase of the year, nay decade, came into it's own again – The ABC of the Church. Think a child's dictionary but with all the obscure details that you can imagine coming up in a 2000 year old institution. And what is chapter 5, why a dictionary of Clergy Dress! This book is going to SAVE me!
I used to be unconvinced by special dress for ministers in church but I've changed my tune. Being part of a more traditional church has widened my perspective. It doesn't have to be jeans and t shirt to be relevant. In fact there is something about church being a bit different from what you encounter every day that appeals to me much more now than it did before.
Special dress is hardly required to stand before God, he takes us as he finds us I've found, but where it's used it's about reverence and respect, a nod to the amazing heritage of the church and a sign to the world (in my currently uneducated opinion!!). Like the dog collar its a statement about who you are and what you have been commissioned to do. It hints at the specialness, the majesty of God. I'll be proud to wear it. Proud and a little intimidated! It's often said that a bride is most likely to freak out when she puts on her wedding dress. The realization dawns of the huge commitment she is about to make. I'm anticipating the same feelings when my cassock (and alb!!) arrive.
The last few months have seen a number of amazing occurrences. Literally at the moment I've realised I need something (and usually can't afford it!) it has suddenly been provided for me. Within hours of receiving the letter from college I had an offer of an old cassock and surplice – for free! The kind benefactor is my size and height so I'll be in style rather than giving Ron Weasley a run for his money! Hurrah! Thank you God!