Scared. Scarred. Sacred. 

“The scared meal” was not how I had intended to advertise our Maundy Thursday communion gathering. I blame auto correct for that, although come to think of it, the disciples were surely scared, especially given Jesus’ talk about future suffering. And they were certainly scarred. These three words—scared, scarred and sacred—so close in spelling, get all mixed together in story of Christianity.

Think, for example, about the gospel accounts of the post-resurrection Jesus using his hands, especially the scar marks, to prove he was who he said he was. In the gospel of John, Thomas goes so far to insist on putting his finger in the mark of the nails and his hand on Jesus’ injured side. He would believe no other way. Following Thomas’ lead, many Christians today experience Jesus as One who stands with wounded hands, welcoming our wounds and scars, whether those wounds are physical or emotional, healed, still healing, or not healed at all. Jesus, the One who takes what is scary and scarred, weaving a more sacred path with us and for us.

Speaking of scars, when I first became a pastor I was shocked at how many people were willing to show me their scars, both physical and emotional. Today it is not so much shocking as it is humbling. So many of us have healed over scars that we are comfortable talking about and showing, others that remain hidden. And then there are those of us who have barely- healed or not-healing-at-all wounds, and we worry about exposing them to the elements or exposing them whatsoever.

Long ago, a hospital chaplain colleague went so far and suggested that “Show me your scars” might make a good future Sunday school class topic. Interesting to think about, I said, but probably too tough to pull off. Then again, by revealing our often hidden scars and wounds, we’d probably have plenty to teach one another about life’s struggles and possibilities, tragedy and resilience, death and resurrection. It could be sacred even. And most certainly scary.

For now, what I find myself compelled to try is to center my prayer life around the image of Jesus, standing with open, scarred and sacred palms. What if we would do this while imagining The Risen One’s welcome of us, scary wounds and all? And then what if we imagined rising with the One who is Risen, together weaving the more sacred path, scary scars and all?

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