Lights are dim, the music quiet, almost haunting, the crowd somber and silent as they exit. “It was my sin that held him there, until it was accomplished” rings in people’s ears, rattling in their hearts, stirring up reminders of the harsh, careless words, white lies and withheld forgiveness that made the sacrifice, now declared finished, necessary.
Dark, heavy sin hangs in the air.
We are sent from the service knowing it is our sin, that hides in our hearts and speaks words of malice and wrinkles our noses at those in need, that called to be covered. It is a burdensome reminder, because covered it was, with Jesus’ own blood and love.
Yet in this weighty, somber time, there is a strange sense of goodness.
If I don’t acknowledge the stinking, terrible, all-encompassing mess that is my own sin, I may be tempted to think I can save myself–that somehow my own paltry attempts at “being good” will equate to salvation. It is good to be reminded of my own darkness, my desire to live my own way, as though my human power is enough to save myself.
But then, grace.
Beautiful, sweet, obliterating grace steps into the weighty darkness to say I don’t have to think that way, act that way, be that way. Grace says I am drawn to the dark, but have been given light. Grace says my sin, the mess I can never clean up with any amount of mops or bleach, has been more than cleaned–it is forgotten. As though the mess never existed. I am seen as spotless.
Remembering my sin, acknowledging I’ve tried to do it on my own and failed, seeing the ever-increasing mess I will never be able to clean…yet accepting the gift of grace, living as an expression of gratitude, knowing my mess is now and forever gone. Reconciling the two is more than my limited mind seems capable of.
So we live in the tension, brought to light more than usual in holy week services and celebrated with finality on Easter. We live in the pull between the whisperings of sin saying, “You can clean up your own mess,” and the melodious shouts of grace, saying, “Your mess has been forgotten, if only you accept it.”
It is good to remember our sin, but we remember from within the loving embrace of grace. There is sorrow for our sin, acceptance that we have and will continue to do wrong…and it pushes us back to grace. The need, the wonder, the beauty of grace.
Til next time…
p.s. Have you ever felt the tension between remembering sin and living in grace?