When the council of friends met on Monday morning, we reflected on our meditation of Isaiah 61 for the week. I would like to share the gleanings of our discussion, though I seem to have lost the flow of it.
God gives us a crown of beauty for ashes. The ashes have to come before the beauty, because the fire that leaves the ashes burns out our guilt and *stuff*. Then there is a place for the beauty with which he wants to crown us.
Ashes are bitter to our taste, and guilt is bitter to our souls. But God will crown us with beauty--it's a process.
Guilt is like a wound. There is some immediate relief with confession and turning for the wrong/damaging attitudes and behavior, like when a wound is bandaged there is some immediate relief from the pain. But the whole healing process takes time, and there is still a wound under the bandage until it's all healed.
When we start to heal from guilt, we are conscious of pain for awhile, then there may be a period of time that the pain doesn't demand attention or distract us, and then suddenly we may realize that we haven't had a problem for awhile. One of the friends shared that this is like her children when they scrape their knees too. They are conscious of the wound for the first couple days, then start being able to act without continual consciousness of the pain. They will notice a few days later that the wound has healed.
In the cross of Christ, God has taken our sin and guilt, and given us his purity. It seems like this means that he is taking the responsibility for the wrong we've done and for making it right, not only for ourselves but also for those we have hurt with our wrong-doing. If we refuse to let go of our guilt and give it to him, there is nothing we can do to bring healing to those we have hurt. But if we let him take the guilt, he is able to mend the wounds we have caused in others. We can ask him to turn the ashes and bitterness we have brought to their lives into a crown of beauty for them, that he will redeem their suffering to be something strong and beautiful.
He is able to mend and beautify the wounds we have received from others by their wrong-doing.
Touched by this Poem that was read on Sunday before communion - Before I take the body of my Lord Before I share his life in bread and wine I recognize the sorry things within These I lay down The words of hope I often ...
11 months ago