We come from the dark night to this place hunch-backed with sin like a witches’ gathering. “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble,” we’ve brewed lies. Listen: We’ve brewed lies. And with gnarled fingers we’ve dropped into the pot our selfishness, our pride, our sour souls. And we lurch and haul and stuff into these pews our bodies with their lusts and idolatries, manipulations and cheatings, abuses and demeanings. We are ugly. Dear Christian, there is no pretty way of saying tonight, that we are ugly in our sins. We can not beautify the face of
But a table has been laid, another meal prepared, grapes fermented, bread baked, broken.
“What of their ugliness?” our hearts might ask. We are not so bad as all of that.
Will we rage against these accusations half blind like a one-eyed Cyclops? Will we be monsters too in our self-righteousness, seeing only the failings of others while our feet trespass muddily? It is a viable option, to deny our sins and cover them with our neighbours’ sins. And if we blow our whistles loud enough, and point in all the right directions, call out, “The poor, the poor, no one is fighting for the poor!” then they may even give us a medal and call us the servants of the oppressed. And we would never have to turn our eye to our own feet in such need of washing, to the hanging towel waiting at his waist.
So we are ugly, our hearts might confess, but we are doing our best.
But in our best we writhe and bite, kill and consume like a many-headed Hydra, and each time we cut off one bald faced sin, two more grow back in its place. “Meaningless, meaningless,” we cry in despair, “Everything is meaningless.” And we give in, and fall asleep in the garden while he prays. It is too much. We cannot stay awake and watch. We do not even know what we are watching for. But as we have rested our many-headed selves, He prays. Still, He prays.
We are ugly. We can not deny it now, but we can run. We can be afraid and kill the one who has shown us our ugliness. We can walk through this black, cold night, past the wall, through the garden, and with a band of priests and swords we can kiss and kill. And Beautiful is beautiful because he will let us run from our sin in this way. He will call us friend, even as the kiss is still wet on our lips.
Dear Monsters, dear witches and Cyclops, Hydras and Judases, dear Christians,
Tonight, come, see, watch, stay. If we do not, then how will our stomachs be filled, our feet washed, our hope restored, our ugliness forgiven?
At the planted cross we will come and watch him bloom in blood and love, and at the tomb we will stop and stay, this time we will stay, and in the morning and in the newness we will see how even we, with all our ugliness, can be made beautiful.