Thursday, March 20, 2008


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 Sudan and Afghanistan, of Hobbema and Enoch, of 97th street and 118ave, of our own homes. We’ve brewed it up, stirred it up and swallowed it down into our guts.

But a table has been laid, another meal prepared, grapes fermented, bread baked, broken.

But come.

“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.

But see.

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.

But watch.

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.

But stay.

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.


Deanna said...

Every bit true. I'm marveling, and very happy, as strange as that is. Thanks.

the hamster said...

i will go for a walk now.

Cherie said...

Feeling very pensive and raw.

You've touched nerve - again.

There is a Redeemer - thank God!

Cecily said...

I am appreciating this Easter as an opportunity to reflect deeply on the significance of what Christ achieved at Easter... and here I come and find rich food for reflection. Thanks Angela. You've done it again!

Kimberly said...

so I've been reading from Bonhoeffer:

To forego self-conceit and to associate with the lowly means, in all soberness and without mincing the matter, to consider oneself the greatest of sinners... If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all... How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?

I like this story. Thank you for sharing it.

Cherie said...

Thought-provoking quote, Kimberly.

Mike S said...

Angela, have you ever considered a career in sermon writing? Your supurb way of conveying ideas with beautiful imagery is sorely needed by many of those who presently occupy the pulpits of the world. Very inspiring, regardless of our beliefs.
Kim, a beautiful passage and one of my favorites, which I see I'm in need of revisiting, as it's been too long since we last met.

Angela said...

deanna, you're welcome. thanks for reading. still. always. it's good to have you here.

hamster, i want to put you in my coat pocket. i think it's the paws.

cherie, yes.

hey, when are you in england? i know it's a big place and all, but i MIGHT be going back this spring. wouldn't that be fun if we could meet!

awwww, shit. it's all been said before.
it is a good quote, and even though i write and talk and think about these things, i'm still a self-righteous bum. amazing.

is there such a thing as a sermon writer? is that like a speech writer? would i be responsible for what the pastors say in their down time, cause i dunno about that.

and thanks.

Cecily said...

What? You'll be in England too?! That would be so, so cool! I'll be there at the very, very end of spring. (Land on 23rd May at Heathrow and there for a week... maybe I should safely tell you this in an email so no one feels the need to break into my house, which will hopefully have a house sitter!)

Janna Y. Barber said...

Didn't get a chance to read 'til Easter morning, before getting ready for church. Timely. And poetic. Thanks for being so faithful to your Muse.

Angela said...

cecily, i'll keep you posted. IF i go, that would be when!

thanks for coming around here, janna.

Amber said...

Great Post! Great Blog! I'll be back.