By the Rev. Janice Ford
The Church of the Reconciliation (Episcopal) Webster
All of us have at least one or two scars on our bodies. Some are really significant—perhaps from a surgical procedure or an accident. Others are relatively minor—perhaps a small burn or a cut that did not heal well. When I was a nurse working in the emergency department people almost always asked if whatever injury brought them in would “leave a scar.” No one wants a scar. People care about changes to the integrity of their bodies. Our concern about the natural aging process is proof enough of that.
On April 8th we celebrated Easter, and for the next few weeks we will be reading Scripture that describes the time when the risen Christ visited those he loved. Those must have been truly bizarre days. It is difficult to imagine how Jesus’ closest followers dealt with seeing him “alive” after seeing him die and be buried. And not only was Jesus walking, talking, and eating. He was doing all those things while bearing the scars from his gruesome death. He tells the apostle Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.” (John 20:27-28 NRSV) Some may ask why God would raise his Son from the dead bearing scars. Why wouldn’t God want Jesus’ body to be perfectly restored?
Scars are a sign that something has happened to us. No matter the cause, no matter the intensity, scars speak about our lives. They tell a story about us. The scar from a Caesarian birth tells the world that I am a mother. The scar from a bullet wound speaks to a young man’s troubled past. The scar on the wrist of a fourteen year old girl tells of the self-inflicted cuts she hoped would obliterate the pain of the abandonment she feels.
Jesus’ scars told of his crucifixion—not just for the emotional angst of telling the story, but so that we would not forget why it happened. We must never forget that Jesus’ death and resurrection provided our salvation. Scars are the most powerful means for us to remember what happens to us in our lives. Psychological and emotional scars are no less important and impactful as physical ones. They remind us of how incredibly wounded we all are.
God did not send Jesus back with scars so that he could be pitied. Jesus did not use those scars to berate those who killed him, or frighten those who loved (abandoned) him. Jesus used his scars to help us have faith—to help us believe. By coming back to the world wounded, Jesus reminds us that our own scars have meaning and purpose in our lives. No matter what kind of scars we bear—physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual—they can, and should compel us to continue living more fully, more alive, more aware, more in tune with God.
When we look at our scars, we should name them for what they are—reminders not of our imperfections, but rather of the opportunities they give us to learn from them and go forward. God’s grace is not found in our perfection. It is found in our brokenness.
- Wednesday, 18 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Religion