As the Maundy Thursday service drew to a close, the historic sanctuary was gradually stripped of liturgical accessories.
The banners from high up on the walls. The candles and their light. The purple cloth wrapped around the large cross that hung along the back wall behind the altar. A somber yet peaceful silence accompanied the stripping.
Tomorrow night, a certain darkness will characterize the Good Friday service. On Sunday a bright, abundant light will be joined by joyful music as we celebrate the Resurrection.
But for tonight, all is stripped bare.
As we commemorated how Jesus knelt in the Garden, awaiting arrest, I reflected on how much of me is being stripped bare of exterior reliabilities. Economic, career, relational...many directions in which I have placed trust, assumption, hope. Each layer of dependency slowly peeled away, until all that remains is a somber yet somehow peaceful silence.
Here I kneel, at the altar that is my daily life and its routines. Tonight I knelt at Christ's altar, my saliva slowly dissolving the communion wafer I had dipped in sweet grape juice. My prayer is that the two altars might become indistinguishable from one another, and that the character of Christ might become inseparable from my own.