Churches do not create banners centered on words like Sin or Blood or Pain. Instead, we ask gifted seamstresses to stitch wall hangings of words like Faith, Grace, Joy, or Love. And while the first set of banners will not likely win over the decorating committee for any sanctuary, we do well to ponder the pain associated with the cross and hence, our faith.
When our church in Severna Park began designing a sanctuary, Pastor Parkinson reminded us of our need to worship in a place of beauty, but to also place reminders somewhere in the building of our sin, lest we deceive ourselves and forfeit our great need to confess our sins before a holy God.
Think about the tabernacle or the beauty of Solomon’s Temple. The record of 2 Chron. 24:8- 12 states, “At the king’s command, a chest was made and placed outside, at the gate of the temple of the LORD. A proclamation was then issued in Judah and Jerusalem that they should bring to the LORD the tax that Moses the servant of God had required of Israel in the desert. All the officials and all the people brought their contributions gladly, dropping them into the chest until it was full. Whenever the chest was brought in by the Levites to the king’s officials and they saw that there was a large amount of money, the royal secretary and the officer of the chief priest would come and empty the chest and carry it back to its place. They did this regularly and collected a great amount of money. The king and Jehoiada gave it to the men who carried out the work required for the temple of the LORD. They hired masons and carpenters to restore the LORD’S temple, and also workers in iron and bronze to repair the temple.”
I remember being taught to drive: “You steer into the skid,” directed my father. Right! That’s like telling me to lean IN when someone tries to land a punch on my jaw. In the same way, who goes looking for wounds? Don’t they warp and ruin us? W. H Auden wrote, “We would rather be ruined than changed.”
Yet my wounds, both physical and emotional, have driven me to God more than then easy times. It’s my darkest hours, my deepest needs, my greatest failures that have driven me to the Lord.
And about Jesus? Isaiah says it best in chapter 53. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”