How Jesus used my halter top

(My Mom gets credit for the title. She said I had to tell this story.)

I’ve been wearing girlier (is that a word?) clothes since I got back from my conference. Most likely, this is because spending a week with other young clergy womenfolk will remind one that (a) one is feminine, and so are other young woman pastors and it’s OK to be girly and (b) other young women pastors wear great clothes, and one has such clothes in the closet and ought to wear them.

But, it might also be that God seemed to use my halter top for good. Here’s the story:

We had a free afternoon and evening, so I wore my (modest for a) halter top (there is really no cleavage going on with this thing), black with a classy splash of white floral embroidery. That morning, I got a few compliments, and explained that I don’t wear it much at home because halter tops don’t feel too “minsterish” to me and I wonder if it’s appropriate. My fellow women said this was silly. It looked good and I should wear it.
When a group of us went on our way to see a movie that afternoon, we ran into a little trouble when a mysterious package shut down the Washington Metro. As we gathered on the sidewalk with nearly everyone else in Washington, on what must be Washington’s hottest, humidest day in ages, to board overcrowded buses, the 5 of us who were headed to this movie decided this might be the time to hail a cab and see if the cabbie would cram 5 of us in. Now, I have lived in cities, but I am cheap (seriously cheap–I am Dutch–we are the cheapest people in the world), and I have maybe hailed a cab twice in my life. But it was hot out. So I just stepped right up to the curb and stuck my arm out and hailed that cab with authority. At least, I attributed the fact that the cab came to me rather than the guy standing nearby me to the authority thing, but I think it might have been the halter top.

Our cabbie was a gregarious man from an undetermined Asian country. He asked why we were all in town. I said, “Would you believe, we’re all women-preachers?!” He said, “Tell me, what does your Bible say about you wearing clothes like that?” (Odd question, since I think he stopped because of the halter top…) I told him it really didn’t say anything about  halter tops. However, this again made me question the decency of a woman pastor wearing a halter top.
But this started a really wonderful conversation. I decided to be brave and do what our conference speaker had suggested: take your next sermon text along with you at all times and ask people you randomly meet during the week what they think about the scripture text you are working on for your next sermon. So I did. Unfortunately, the book of Hebrews is a pretty long string of argument and my Muslim cabbie had a tough time jumping into the middle of things with me at the end of chapter 11. But, we slogged through it for awhile.

This led to him telling me about his feelings about the more public religious figures out there–that most of them, Christian, Muslim, what have you, are in it for the power. (I taught him the idiomatic expression: “Full of hot air.” I think he’ll be using that a lot in the future.) But, he really likes Joel Osteen. He listens to him often. (Yes, a Muslim cabbie listening to Joel Osteen. Truly, we are in a new era of globalization.)
And, he tries to read the Bible and Koran to compare the two. He wanted to get his hands on a copy of the Torah as well. I felt very helpful explaining to him that since he had a Bible, he basically had the contents of the Torah as well. We talked a bit about the story of David and Bathsheba (his choice, not mine…for awhile I was worried that this choice of stories might circle back to my halter top again). He really liked the way Nathan called David out.

And then, I found out that his Bible was one that some Mormons gave him. And I was appalled. Not because he was stuck with this bad translation, but because I had almost stuck my nice little pocket TNIV into my purse that morning. But then I didn’t. And if I had, I would have given him my TNIV.

Now, you have to understand that I am the granddaughter of a minister who has spent the bulk of his career working to get Bibles into people’s hands (not just figuratively–he worked for a Bible distribution agency–they would talk about great years as ones where they got X thousand Bibles to Y country). And here I was with a guy who needed a Bible and I didn’t have one on me. I began thinking about running into a book store to pick one up.
But then, we got to the movie theater, and that was the end of it. You never know what will happen when you wear a halter top.

4 Responses to “How Jesus used my halter top”

  1. ppb Says:

    you know, it was a really cute (and modest, I’ll add for grandma’s sake) halter top. i think it was meant for adventure.

  2. teri Says:

    that, friend, is awesome.

  3. teri Says:

    PS I almost died when I typed in the wrong URL for your site, using .com instead of org. There are people who don’t look so different from you, with a last name similar to yours (which I only noticed after a few minutes, hello dense), getting married in October. I was like “aren’t they already married?” I was very confused for several minutes until I noticed the last name thing. crazy.

  4. Heidi Says:

    Excellent story, Erica. Makes me want to go shopping…
    …for clothes…and Bibles.