Today is Maundy Thursday in the Lutheran world. This is probably going to sound weird, but this is one of my favorite holy days during the church year.
For one, it's on a Thursday which used to be my favorite day of the year, but the other reason is the texts for tonight are always so raw and cutting.
The OT text was Genesis 4:1-16 tonight, aka the Cain and Abel story. As BigO said tonight, this text contains the 7 scariest words in the entire Bible (maybe in life in general), "Let us go out to the field." If you know or remember the story, it is there that Cain rises up against his brother and kills him. The Bible's first murder. Wow. And the kicker - Cain is still protected by God. God doesn't abandon Cain. God gets pissed, who wouldn't, but doesn't abandon Cain at all in the end. Instead Cain is given a mark so all the world knows he is protected by God.
Of course this brings up one of my two favorite sacraments (grin), Baptism. We're all marked by God in Baptism and we are promised we will not be abandoned. What a gift!
Okay, but getting back to tonight. At the end of this service - we have the sermon, we have offering, we have communion - we strip the altar. We remove the altar and sanctuary of all "flair" (to use an FB term) leaving it bare and open to the world.
There is a lot of symbolism in this, and Big O read off their reasoning for each item, which of course I can't remember right now. But as each statement was read, another item was removed, taken away from our sight.
I just kept thinking how earthy it all was - how the connection between the coming death of Christ and our coming death, where we'll be stripped to nothing and revealed as our true selves really is so clear.
The last word really hit home - in death we are revealed for who we really are. We know we're all sinners, but in death we will really be shown for who we are and have been in this life. And just as our death will show us who we are, the death of Christ (coming to a church near you) reveals who He really is - God, our Savior, our Redeemer.
I thank God for this day. I needed this. For the shit of a person I am, I need to know that despite my faults and stupid actions, God will not abandon me.