At first, I thought it was because I was missing out on the sacredness of this Holy Week – this mantle of sadness I am wearing as these holy days steal closer.
At first, I thought it was a longing to sit in the dimness of the sanctuary, to join in the solemn procession toward the Eucharist, to again dip my hands into holy water, to feel the oily imprint of the cross drawn slowly across my forehead as prayers were muttered, to gaze deeply upon the thorny crown and rough-hewn cross.
But then I realized that more often than one week of every year, more often even than every Sunday for the past many years, I have had a deep longing when I think not just of Holy Week, but of every opportunity to gather in the church for corporate worship.
The hunger in my heart was always to one day discover that all that was promised was finally coming true . . . that I would find within those holy walls more than a community of faith, but a community of grace, of friendship, of unconditional love, of unfailing kindness and generosity of spirit, of family whose blood ties were born of the blood of Jesus.
Instead, year after year, Sunday after Sunday, I sat in the shadows and endured the excruciating pain of listening to a choir which I was not allowed to join; of watching a class gather that I was not allowed to enter; of seeing people being called and encouraged and sent and supported and knowing that I could not hope for so much as a touch of grace.
Every Sunday, every holiday, every holy day of Holy Week, I would go and hope to find all of those things that a Christian community promises.  And sometimes, I thought perhaps I had.  But now I know it wasn’t real.
If it had been real, I would have experienced that community of faith, of grace, of friendship, of unconditional love, of unfailing kindness and generosity of spirit, of family whose blood ties were born of the blood of Jesus even more these past four months than ever.  Instead, I have discovered that the people I called “mine” – my church family, my friends, my pastors – the people with whom I thought I shared a Body . . . those people I loved so deeply that I suffered long for . . . those people I told myself were like family and loved me even more because their love was the love of Christ . . . those people don’t exist.  I was only fooling myself by hoping that they would actually be all that I wanted them to be.
And so, I am wearing a mantle of sadness this week.  Just as I have for many years.  Somehow, I think Jesus shares this longing with me.  A longing for His Bride, the Church, to be what He longs for them to be . . .
A community of grace, of friendship, of unconditional love, of unfailing kindness and generosity of spirit, of family whose blood ties are born of His blood.
Poured out for us.
This Holy Week.
 
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