The other day, quite unintentionally actually, I found myself in Chapel at my school, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I am a marvelously busy guy these days, and Chapel is one thing that just seems to fall off my radar screen each week. But I was having lunch with someone who wanted to swing by Chapel first, so swing by I did. It was amazing! I had like a half hour to sit and pray and worship without being rushed from one thing to the next. It made me wonder why I don't do it more, and the obvious answer is that I haven't made it a discipline or habit (more on this later).
It was a Thursday, which meant that in addition to worship and sermon we would be enjoying communion together. We partook of communion by intinction (still my favorite method, even though some disagree with me), so as I dipped the bread into the cup, I put my hand under the bread kind of instinctively to catch any juice that might drip to the floor. And drip it did! I don't know if I got an unusually unabsorbent piece of bread, but a whole lot of grape juice fell from the bread to my hands. Now, I have been spending a lot of time in church history studying Luther and Zwingli and Calvin and their different views of what is actually happening in the communion elements, do they turn into Christ, is Christ present, is it all just metaphorical, so all of that is running through my head. But when I looked down, the thought that came through my mind was "Hey look, there's blood on my hands."
It was more than a little bit powerful to reflect on that.
I will confess, particularly in a busy political season, I am apt to put blame for a whole host of problems on someone else's shoulders. If this person believed the way I do, then we'd all be fine. If you saw the world the way that I do, things would be different. If I didn't have to be at this school 5 days a week, I'd have time to, you know, enjoy my family. So frequently, the blame goes elsewhere. But as I made my way back to my seat in the chapel, I was kind of struck by the weight of Christ's blood on my hands. It was my sin that put him on the cross. It was my failure that he had to take care of to restore me. It is him who keeps nudging me toward transformation every day, because I so desperately need to be transformed.
None of this is "woe is me" language either. If anything, I was profoundly grateful for everything Christ has done and continues to do in me. I am grateful for a moment to have taken the blame off of other people and placed it on myself, only to find in that moment pure and unadulterated forgiveness in the person of Christ. I hope you have occasion for that sometime soon. To feel the weight of your sin is also to feel the weight of your forgiveness. It's why we have a confession of sin in our worship services. To feel the weight his blood on our hands is also to feel the weight of his love and mercy.
May we all know this grace this week!