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The Man in Black

Why I wear black

When I was in seminary I could not wait to receive a call to a church and be ordained. A few weeks before ordination I went on the CM Almy web site and purchased a white alb with a rolled collar. I remember when I received it. It hung in my tiny apartment and I could not stop looking at its white edges and collar. I was also excited to wear the chasuble at the Holy Communion. That’s what I wore for over a decade.

Then I went back to the black preaching robe and tabs (talare and beffchen). Why? Because it’s what the pastors of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania wore when the church I serve was founded. The men who founded the Lutheran Church in this part of the country did not wear albs or chasubles or anything like that. They wore black preaching robes (in fact Muhlenberg, our Patriarch had a black preaching robe made in London on his way to Pennsylvania) of the German Lutheran Church. When Henry Muhlenberg was slandered by the Moravians for his steadfast confession of the Lutheran Faith he was

called “that black robe from Halle.” So, I wear the black robe to stand with Muhlenberg and the other fathers of the Ministerium of PA over and against those who seek to dilute the Lutheran Confession of Faith and ultimately confuse God’s Word in these parts.

I wear the black robe to stand with Hermann Sasse, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Werner Elert, Martin Neimoller and Otto Dibelius who stood against the prevailing ideology and culture in their own day.

The black preaching robe and tabs is a confession. It is a confession that says I hold to the Faith of my fathers. I will not bend down and kiss the ring of those who seek to undermine God’s Word and minimize the Lutheran confessions. I guess you could call me the “man in black.”

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