My thoughts lingered on the stripping of the altar as the mood in the Maundy Thursday service shifted from Holy Eucharist to Gethsemane. All was cleared: left over bread and wine, communion vessels and fine linens, and candles. These items won’t be needed now. They are surface. The altar is stripped down to the bare wood. It has work to do. The cross is draped in black.
As the season of Lent is ending, I am sensitized to loss, self denial, and temptation. Several members of my family are in the process of moving. They clear away old stuff, decluttering and simplifying. Their old houses must be staged for viewing by others. Buyers need to imagine their stuff in your house, I’m told.
Have I been stripped enough? What does my buyer think?
Jesus is rapidly simplifying now. I wonder what happened to his sandals? The Bible doesn’t say. He’ll get a temporary robe fit for a king and a borrowed crown too: thorns cruelly mashed into his head. The Jesus of Mark’s Gospel had a destination calendar with appointments of the unexpected along the way: healing and teaching, fellowshipping, and praying. He gave up control of his calendar too. Soon to be stripped of even his clothes, he won’t be needing them where he is going. I wonder what happened to his sandals.
I entered Holy Week to tread the path that Jesus trod only to discover the path of being stripped. Jesus paid full price for my sin. Can he imagine his stuff in my house? I invite him in and to bring his stuff too. He bought a cluttered house in me. He has some more simplifying to do.
A stripped altar. A surrendered heart. I hope he can imagine his stuff in my house.