Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Red Robes

About three blogs back, I recalled how the choir of my childhood church processed down the aisle and into the chancel every Sunday singing Holy, Holy, Holy. I have one other memory of church processionals. It has to do with bright red robes.

In the later years of my active ministry I served as interim pastor for a year and a half at the First Presbyterian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a handsome old Gothic church in downtown Lincoln, a block from the high rise Art Deco state capitol building and not far from the University of Nebraska.

As in my boyhood church, the choir processed down the aisle every Sunday. Not always to the same hymn, however.
It was a good choir. They sang better than the angels and they looked really sharp in their scarlet robes. A theologically appropriate color, I thought; better than in some churches where the color of the robes is chosen to complement the color of the paint on the walls.

One Saturday, when I had been in Lincoln only about a month, one of my new Nebraska friends took me to my first University of Nebraska football game. I don’t remember who the Cornhuskers were playing that day, but they won. “Of course,” their fans would say. The Cornhuskers had a habit of winning.

What I remember most about that Saturday is that the Cornhusker fans all turned out for the game dressed in the school colors. The U of N side of the stadium was a solid sea of red. I was impressed.

The next morning as my associate pastor and I followed the choir down the center aisle, I was struck by a jolting question. Were those red robes really chosen for their doctrinal significance? They were Cornhusker red.

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