Today, we grieve.
We grieve injustice, racism and violence. We grieve for people killed by the very people we pay to protect them. We grieve sickness, death, loneliness, isolation, loss of income, food insecurity and those trapped in prisons where the virus rages, those effectively sentenced to capital punishment for the “crime” of not being able to meet bail.
In Col. 3, St. Paul invites us to set our minds on things above. He provides a long list of things that weigh us down, things that prevent us from being the people we long to be, including lust, greed, rage, slander and lying. He reminds us that we all are one in Christ. He says that there’s no distinction of gender, race or class in Christ.
We know. We agree. But often it feels like the harder we try, the faster we fail. The quarantine has a clarifying effect: it shows us the things we need to shed as individuals, as a nation, as a world.
We need healing. Desperately. So how do we receive the healing we need?
I can think of no better solution than the following mediation exercise in Leanne Payne’s classic book, THE HEALING PRESENCE. She writes:
“I never cease to be awed at the simplicity and the extent of the spiritual and psychological healings that take place when we ask a person to look and see, with the eyes of his heart, Jesus on the Cross. As he looks to the One who took into ‘his own body on the tree’ the sin, the darkness, the pain that is killing him, he is then enabled to yield up to the dying Christ the ‘death’ that is in his own members…. When we do so, God’s energy is indeed ‘let loose.’ People repent and are forgiven: people forgive others and are healed.”
Try it. I have, multiple times this week. But I warn you: get away by yourself, because you might weep.
What I found is that I didn’t want to burden Him. I didn’t want to hurt Christ by giving him my bad stuff. I felt terrible for causing Him to suffer. I imagined handing him my anger, for instance, and visualized what it cost Him to take it from me.
But that is exactly the point. He did suffer for us. He died so we might live. By His stripes we are healed. He invites us to hand Him the burdens we were not made to carry, the burdens of our inadequacy and brokenness.
So close your eyes and give Christ your all, your good and your bad. As you imagine Christ on the cross, dying for you, picture yourself giving to Him the sin, darkness and pain that is killing you. Give him your hopelessness and your fear, the things that make you angry and the things that make you want to give up.
He already wept.
And in the place created by that holy transference, we will find room in our hearts for hope and for love. God takes our sin and gives us grace to enable us to help others who so desperately need it. Amen.