I stand in front of an old church.
The worn fibro is dirty, weather marked and scuffed, like my hightops.
The weatherboard was painted fuchsia pink, who knows how long ago, and why?
The skinny cross perched beneath the roof’s ridge is a little bit crooked.
Aren’t we all though?
Aren’t we all a bit bruised, and a bit broken? We’re a little bit scuffed around the edges and we’ve tried to paint ourselves brightly, but it’s tiring isn’t it, all this pretending? It’s tiring, keeping our halos straight with all the doing.
I’ve been the Pharisee on the street corner, praying loud and alluding to a holiness that doesn’t exist. I’ve been the disciple that whispers to Jesus to hurry on because I’m hungry. I’ve been the rich man who can’t experience the presence of God because I don’t want to let go of my grasp on the world. I’ve been the woman at the well, and missed the point—seeing what’s in front of me without understanding the heart of Jesus.
I’ve seen in black and white, I’ve lived as judge and jury. I’ve done good and looked good without any real goodness. I’ve been a legalist, and I’ve been blinded by pride.
I’ve tried and failed a hundred ways to save myself.
And Jesus says He didn’t come to call the self-righteous, but the ones who fail to measure up.
And suddenly I’m glad not to measure up.
I’m glad to walk with a limp and wrestle with doubt and sit at the table with the scorned and the outcast.
Jesus reaches out without hesitation to touch our leprous skin, wash the dust from our tired feet.
And now, grace abounds and walks around the edges of our everyday experience.*
My edges are scuffed but that’s where the grace is.
I’m worn out by religion but the person of Jesus offers something more.
I’m tired of trying, but I don’t have to—I can’t save myself anyway, and grace abounds.
Grace abounds in the mess; when churches are burning and when muslims are hurting, when Christians are judging not loving, grace abounds.
I won’t hide my limp or pretend piety or try to straighten my wonky halo.
I’ll stand over here at the edges, scuffed and dirty—where the grace is—and make room for you, too.
We are not saints, we are not perfect and we are not very loving at all* but there’s grace here.
And this is the divine mystery: that it was for our broken hearts, our mess and our mistakes that He died.
He died loving us; seeing past our mess, seeing through our mistakes—despite and because of our shame.
He died so we could be free from the doing and the earning. Now we don’t have to paint ourselves in bright colours or try to cover our brokenness.
Nothing we can do can save ourselves.
Here, at the cross we can allow Him to touch our scaly skin and see our broken parts; accepting the gift He holds out, so that our hurts can become our hope.
It’s a Good Friday indeed.
* Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
* Richard Rohr